Angkas presents safety measures; commuters react

AS MOTORCYCLE taxi ride-hailing service app Angkas introduced its new anti-Covid measures, commuters in Cebu have expressed their hesitation and called for stricter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Nifritti Sy, a regular Angkas commuter, said she has reservations but she welcomes the innovation of Angkas.

“The rider still has to bring disinfectant spray and thoroughly clean the unit before he can accommodate another passenger. The virus can stick for hours or even days to a contaminated surface,” she said.

Another Angkas passenger, who requested anonymity, said there needs to be more space for social distancing.

“I won’t ride. There’s not enough space between the rider and the passenger,” he said.

The spread of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines has temporarily halted mass transportation.

Under the government’s stricter sanitary measures, public transportation in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ) status will strictly impose the wearing of face masks, implementation of no-contact measures such as cashless payments, use of thermal scanners, availability of alcohol and sanitizers in public utility vehicles, disinfection of high-touch surfaces of vehicles, establishment of disinfection facilities in various public transport terminals and contact tracing.

On Monday, June 22, city buses and modern public utility vehicles will now be allowed to operate in areas under GCQ.

The government though has yet to allow the motorcycle backriding nationwide as physical distancing cannot be enforced. But according to a report, the Department of Health (DOH) is still studying the possibility of allowing motorcycle taxis, such as Angkas, in GCQ areas. It is also studying the health implications and how physical distancing can be enforced in traditional jeepneys.

‘New normal’ solution

Angkas recently introduced a set of innovative health and safety guidelines aimed at reducing the chances of virus transmission when riding on motorcycle taxis.

Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca explained that they submitted the proposed health and safety protocol to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in the hope of helping the government initiate further studies to enhance the safety of motorcycle taxi services.

He said they want to work with the government in pursuing further studies on how to make motorcycle taxi services safer during the pandemic so they can be rolled out in the future to pre-register passengers and ease the transport struggle of commuters going to work.

Part of the Angkas proposal is to make motorcycle taxis much like a shuttle service with pre-registered passengers for select companies.

According to Royeca, this will ensure strict contact tracing for those who might test positive for Covid-19.

“To date, Angkas has a base of four million users that can help add to the government’s contact tracing database,” Royeca noted.

“We also propose that all passengers should strictly use their own helmets and carry their own face masks to limit contact,” he said. “Also, all bikers will be subjected to regular Covid-19 testing.”

“We hope to work with the IATF-EID and the DOH to monitor the results, and eventually recommend guidelines that can be adopted by both private motorcycles and motorcycle taxis alike. If the design is approved by the government and the medical experts, we commit to make the final shield design mold for free to the public,” Royeca said. (JOB with KOC)