WHEN the National Task Force (NTF) against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) required the use of a physical barrier while riding a motorcycle, riders and experts said the decision was dangerous. Accidents can happen as the barrier would create a “drag and lift” effect and make the motorcycle unstable.
The Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) said in July that government’s barrier policy for back-riding on motorcycles “may contribute negatively to safety, health, economy and environment.” It said in a position paper that the barrier will affect the aerodynamics of a moving motorcycle.
The debate continued with others adding their voice to the call for government to reconsider the barrier requirement. But the Department of the Interior and Local Government said the barrier was not a safety concern as experts and transportation officials have approved it. Riders only need to be careful.
Finally, effective Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, the barrier was removed. At least for motorcycle riders living in the same house. According to a SunStar Philippines report, Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander Guillermo Eleazar announced this policy change as approved by the NTF.
Eleazar said the back-rider must be an authorized person outside residence (Apor) or those working in industries allowed to open while the driver may or may not be an Apor. The motorcycle must be privately owned and is not for hire. The riders should also wear face masks and full-face helmets at all times.
This is a welcome development as the NTF appeared to have finally listened to the clamor of motorcycle owners and riders belonging to the same family. The only regret was that government did not listen to them early on, and they already purchased the barriers by using their dwindling family resources.
Then, there is still the matter of the for-hire motorcycles as owners also cite the danger to them. The NTF decision did not include them.
The call now is for government to study and review policy proposals, consult private sector experts, before coming up with another requirement that would just be a waste of money. That’s the lesson from this barrier controversy.