TRANSPORTATION Secretary Arthur Tugade has given his verbal consent to allowing public utility vehicles (PUVs), including traditional jeepneys, to operate again in Cebu Province.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced this development through an online press conference held in Barili town on Monday, July 20, 2020.
The governor said she had requested the Department of Transportation to suspend the current arrangement for the operation of public utility vehicles amid community quarantine, which has been imposed to slow down the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Cebu Province and its 42 municipalities and five component cities are under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). Still on general community quarantine (GCQ) status are the towns of Consolacion and Minglanilla and City of Talisay.
Garcia reminded operators that they cannot deploy their jeepneys to their regular routes yet.
She said drivers of jeepneys and other public utility vehicles cannot fetch passengers along national highways. However, they are allowed to travel along barangay roads and transport passengers to the buses and mini buses parked at designated terminals.
The public utility vehicles must pass the roadworthiness tests of the Land Transportation Office 7 and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 before these will be permitted to travel.
Garcia said Tugade told her to send him the letter requesting to allow public utility vehicles to fetch passengers again in their regular routes.
The same request will be sent to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Operators and drivers of old public utility vehicles have been clamoring to authorities to allow them transport passengers. The public transport is one of many sectors in society affected by lockdowns imposed by the government.
In GCQ and MGCQ settings, only buses and modern public utility vehicles are allowed to transport passengers as long as they carry only 50 percent of their seating capacity. This is to observe physical distancing in public transportation.
On July 17, 2020, Garcia decided to send a request letter to Tugade and the IATF during a meeting with the LTFRB 7 and LTO 7 officials, operators and drivers. She said that in the letter, she will signify that around 80 percent of drivers in Cebu Province will abide by the National Government’s jeepney modernization program.
On Monday, July 20, members of progressive transport group Piston held a silent protest, urging the National Government to allow them to operate again.
The Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu conducted its activity on A. del Rosario St. in Mandaue City and in Cebu City. Piston members in masks carried placards with messages urging the government to allow them to operate their old jeepneys.
Local Piston chapter leader Ronilo Gahator said other Piston members also protested in Manila, saying they have been struggling to feed their families since the lockdowns started in March. Piston Manila members held a noise barrage.
Some Piston members received help from the government through its Social Amelioration Program and they also got grocery items and rice.
However, the assistance only sustain the daily consumption of their families for a few months only.
Gahator said their members have tried to apply for jobs as company drivers or delivery truck drivers. Limited slots and age-limit left several Piston members not hired. Those who got lucky only work three to four days a week, and their daily wage is not enough.
The transportation sector is needing help from the National Government and Piston plans to submit a petition to allow drivers go back to their regular routes, Gahator said. (ANV and KFD)