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Traffic in Davao

In the past, I have written many times about the crazy drivers and motorcycles in the Philippines. It is a very aggressive driving habit. I have had friends comment that if they had a car, they would be too afraid to dive here, but that is not what I want to talk about today.

In the two years I have lived in Davao, I have seen an increase in construction in both commercial and residential building. There is a big project coming in that will consist of a business park a shopping mall, condominiums, and hotel. There are other hotels under construction and the plan for two more malls.

There has to be a reason for this increase of construction and that is an increase of businesses and population. With this increase of buildings and population will hugely influence traffic.

Already traffic is getting bad. I remember in the past thinking I can get almost anywhere in the city proper in 10 minutes during off times and maybe 20 at peak traffic times, not any more.

Two day a week, I play bridge not too far away. I am not sure of the distance but with no traffic, I can drive there in approximately 10 minutes. If the game lasts to around 6pm, the traffic is terrible. One night there was an accident and it took me 45 minutes to get home. This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. One my trip home I pass two churches. At both with all the people coming and going to get their blessing the traffic was at a standstill. You see, when there is a location where many people need public transportation there is a huge lineup of Jeepneys. They will fill the right lane and as more jeepneys arrive, they will start stopping on the left lane. This causes drivers to take over the left lane of incoming traffic. It took me over an hour to get home.

What worries me is when that new business park, mall and condominiums are built, what will traffic be like then? The main road near me is J.P. Laurel. This road is the main road used from the north end of town to the downtown area. There are already two malls on this road and it is the same road where the two planned malls are to be built. All this added shopping and location for employment will add more jeepney and taxi activity.

I have heard the city government is now requiring new commercial buildings to include a traffic impact plan when filing for a permit. As crowded the city is, there is no place to add more roads or widen the existing. In my mind, the impact report will just say, “we will impact traffic, what do you want me to do?”

At least, I am not employed and can regulate my travel to the light traffic times. I just hope I keep in mind the traffic times.

One friend has his house on the market and is planning to move to the condominiums at the new center. He says living there with the new mall and restaurants planned, he only will need to go down the elevator and shop or eat in the complex and not have to drive anywhere.

10 Responses to “Traffic in Davao”

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Bruce…Again, as always, an interesting read.I was interested in your new story about the large multi-use project that you just described….interested because it is an great difference in life style between the people who will be buying the condos and shopping in the new malls and those that live a rather severe life as you have so well and sympathetically describe in past articles. As an idea for a new article….can you write about who are the middle class and how they got there. Do they seem have a different mind set that the poorer class does not share? How are they able to do so well when the majority does not?

  2. Ben says:

    A good read, indeed. Makes a person think. Here, were we live, we just go whenever we want. Things are much different there, though.
    About the the “class”: Thus far, from everything I have read and from my own experience through my Filipina wife and her family, there are only 2 classes…the rich….and the poor.

  3. Doc says:

    Hi Bruce, I’ve just found your blog and have a feeling I’ll be visiting regularly. I have just returned from Davao and am planning a move there in the next 12 to 18 months. The locations of the new Ayalla Mall, presently under construction, and the proposed SM Mall on the site of the golf course are familiar to me. Where will the big project coming in that will consist of a business park a shopping mall, condominiums, and hotel located?

    • Bruce says:


      I am glad you found my humble site and enjoying the content. Too bad I never met you while you were here.
      The big project is the one you mentioned, the Ayalla Mall, across from Emcor on J.P. Laural in Bajada.

  4. dmythr says:

    Hi Bruce. I was browsing about blogs about the traffic situation here in Davao City. I find it interesting that an American would be writing blogs about our city… I’m a MOM and I drive… and I don’t find it safe to drive around the city with kids (or small kids) in the car. If I could put a huge sticker that says KIDS INSIDE, it’ll cover the whole car for it to be seen by jeepney or taxi drivers who are mostly to cause problem on your driving, e.g. swerving, cutting in, and plainly obstructing the road trying to wait for passengers even if there are already 10 other jeepneys that got there first… believe me, if you’re in those jeepneys, each stop would take you around 10 mins waiting impatiently as to when the jeepneys would leave… And I don’t think the traffic officers does anything about this, even when they see it… I don’t see any police officers apprehending any jeepney drivers even when they are blocking the right lane (on intersection) that’s s’possed to be open for vehicles turning right… It’s not a minor problem… I think it’s a BIG PROBLEM in the city and no one’s addressing it…

    • Bruce says:

      Yes I am an America, but I live here in Davao City. I write my blog to share information about this city where we live for other expats and Filipinos who want to read about this city, country and its people from an American. I try to write the truth but with respect.
      I agree the traffic is a problem and it does not look like it will get any better. Unfortunately many Filipinos need to ride Jeepneys to move around the city and with the large population there are many jeepneys to do this. As for the way they drive and stop for riders, there is very little respect or consideration on the roads here. Also I think their is not enough officers to fully regulate the traffic. Until better forms of transportation is installed and until the city can afford enough officers in the different organizations that can maintain traffic, the problem will continue.

  5. noah says:

    Sir, I agree to some of your comments regarding traffic in Davao. The roads are indeed getting more congested due to the additional jeepney and taxi franchises which the LTO is approving plus the rerouting because of new building constructions. But the main cause of traffic is not the number of vehicles nor the construction of buildings, but the disobedience of drivers towards the traffic rules and regulations.
    Here are the basic traffic rules which are commonly violated by drivers in Davao, both private and government vehicles.
    1. Fast moving vehicles on the right side and slow moving vehicles on the left side – it is so sad that the simplest of traffic rules is the most violated. Taxi and jeepneys tend to stay on the fast lane while moving slowly. This allows them to look for passengers while avoiding cars stopping on the left lane. It is advantageous for them but a bother to cars trying to move faster. Another are the bicycles which uses the fast lane instead of the bicycle lane on the right. Not only does it endanger them but it is sometimes the cause of traffic. It doesn’t only apply to bicycles but with motorcycles as well.
    2. Traffic light signals – while stopping on a stoplight, if you are going to the right you should line up on the right lane, and if going straight stay on the lane pointing towards the road in front and line up in the left side when going left. But this basic rule is almost always violated by public utility vehicles and sometimes the police. These cars line up on the wrong side of the road causing the other cars to wait for them to go to their respective lanes.
    3. Pedestrian crossing – cars are not the only cause of traffic but the pedestrians as well. Pedestrians are too lazy to use the overpass because it lets them climb up the stairs and down again on the other side. Instead they cross directly on the street which causes traffics. The government even painted pedestrian lanes and even installed push buttons on the traffic light post to allow them to cross safely. But alas the push buttons are not being used and pedestrians don’t use their lanes. Sad thing about it, is when they get hit they are the ones who has the guts to get angry.
    The LTO doesn’t even apprehend the violators because in my opinion if they do apprehend them, then all drivers in Davao will lose their licenses. Or maybe the reason is that the government vehicles are also the one violating the traffic rules.

    • Bruce says:

      You have some valid points but as you know, in Davao their is very few to enforce the laws and most drivers do not car about any rules or laws. The city could make a good income from traffic violations and with it have money to increase the size of the LTO office. but many who enforce take cash than writing a ticket.

      • meaxii says:

        I live here in Davao, I’m a student and i ride jeepney everyday. I’m alarmed with your comment that “The city could make a good income from traffic violations and with it have money to increase the size of the LTO office. but many who enforce take cash than writing a ticket.” do you think its the government fault why their are traffic, as you notice the government try to ease the traffic by putting traffic lights and some officer, you see in the victoria plaza area. did you notice that?. i don’t think many of the officers here just want a cash, yes i admitted but only FEW of them, i experience that, the jeepney driver try to pay the officer but he didn’t take it. honestly, i was quite irritated about your comment, but i don’t blame you its your own perspective about our city. and by the way their are any shortcuts if you want, just try to search the map their are plenty if you don’t want to encounter traffic. good day!

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