Imposition of visitors congestion fee pushed

BAGUIO CITY May 22 – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance imposing a visitors congestion fee on the use of motor vehicles, delivery vans, trucks and a tourist ecology fee in the city.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Edgar M. Avila stated that motor vehicles used in the major streets in the city, particularly those directed to and from tourist destinations, hotels, resorts, churches and the like during particularly holidays shall be regulated in the exercise of the local government's police power.

The ordinance added that effective upon its approval, a holiday week in the city shall be declared which will consist of 3 days before a proclaimed national holiday and 3 days after the said proclaimed national holiday or a total of 6 days which in the exigency of need may be extended by the City Mayor through an Administrative Order.

Under the proposed ordinance, during the declared holidays, a congestion charge of P200 per day shall be imposed on motorists who shall use their motor vehicles, including cars, jeeps and vans, to drive into the city or all major streets towards tourist destinations, hotels, resorts, churches, grottos among others.

Further, a similar charge of P200 per day shall be charged for delivery vans and trucks who play the city's designated routes during the declared holiday week.

For tourist buses, the congestion charge shall be P400 per day and failure of the driver to pay the congestion charge shall be considered an automatic violation of the proposed local legislative measure.

On the other hand, during the holidays, a one-time tourist ecology fee of P50 per day shall be imposed on local and foreign tourists.

The ordinance designated the City Treasure as the collection agent for purposes of implementing the provisions of the measure and that he shall prepare a modus operandi to ensure full and maximum collection of the prescribed fees and that he may deputize hotels, inns, travel and tour agents, transport operators, accredited non-government organizations and the punong barangays and their kagawads or tanods as their sub-agents.

The ordinance stipulated that the congestion fee collected shall be deposited through a special trust fund to be exclusively used by the Traffic and Transport Management Committee (TTMC) to develop a traffic system that is fine tuned for the requirements of the city.

Subsequently, the tourist ecology fee shall be deposited in a separate trust fund which will exclusively used by the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to augment its funds to protect the environment and parks of the city.

Violators of the pertinent provisions of the local legislative measure shall be imposed a standard fine of P1,000.

Avila noted that the unending traffic fiasco in the city has become an inevitable reality, thus, extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and while local officials are no experts in traffic management, the local government must now make a bold move to tame traffic as the city is drowning in the number of motor vehicles.

By Dexter A. See

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