CEBU has lost one of its best public servants. Traffic czar Sammy Darza passed away last Wednesday. He was the Citom head for most of the 90s. It was during this time that Cebu was the example of road discipline. Sammy Darza was a very hands-on Citom boss. He would man traffic himself in important areas and educate the drivers on the meaning of the roadsigns. It was also during his watch that our modern traffic light system functioned properly.
Our traffic light system has sensors imbedded in the road whereby it counts the number of cars and it will automatically determine the optimum time for a go and stop signal. If nobody was waiting in the left turn lane, then it would never give the green light for the left turn, thereby saving traffic time. But in order for the traffic system to work, the motorists must follow the traffic signs properly. Sammy Darza educated us through his hands-on work, and yes it was only during his stint that the traffic lights we have was working to it’s full potential.
In 1989, illegal drag racing had become so prevalent in the reclamation area. In fact, it became a go-to hang out place every Saturday night. The whole reclamation area would be full of cars from midnight onwards. Yes, there were accidents and the roads were full of reckless drivers. It was a problem. Sammy Darza invited the known shops, teams and drag racers to City Hall for a meeting. To the surprise of the racers, Sammy offered his help to make legally sanctioned races. By 1990, Cebu had legally sanctioned drag races. Racing was taken off the streets and put on temporary racetracks, a controlled environment. The result was the racing enthusiasts in Cebu became more serious in all aspects of racing and most importantly on safety. Illegal drag racing completely disappeared. At present, Cebu still hosts legally sanctioned drag races. Sammy Darza is the father of legally sanctioned drag races in Cebu.
Sammy Darza is one true public servant. During his stint as the traffic czar of Cebu, he received a salary of one peso a year. He did not encash any of his pay checks but framed it. He is a person who entered Government service for his love of Cebu. He is one person who ended his Government service no wealthier than when he entered. This shows that when an honest man is in government service, there are real and substantial results.
All that order and discipline that Sammy Darza has put in our streets has long disappeared. A lot of the drivers now were still kids when Sammy Darza was Citom chairman. Our streets are full of chaos. Jeepneys stopping in the middle of the road to pick up passengers, huge trucks turning left from the right most lane, motorcycles counter-flowing, pedestrians jaywalking right underneath a foot bridge specifically built for these pedestrians and many more violations that are unenforced. It is saddening.
Cebu needs to be the Cebu of the 90s. We need honest and hardworking public servants like Sammy Darza. I am sick and tired of all this political bickering and empty promises. From being the best, we are now just like the rest.
Sammy Darza is a rare breed. Today, we need someone like him to man the Cebu traffic. Cebu needs a Sammy Darza kind of public service and leadership to bring us back on top again.
May you rest in peace and godspeed to you, Mr. Sammy Darza. You are already missed.