PUVs warned against violating health protocols

·2 min read

The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas is calling on the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Transportation Office to strictly implement health protocols in public utility vehicles (PUVs) to prevent the rise in Covid-19 cases.

Undersecretary Anthony Gerard "Jonji" Gonzales made the call after receiving reports of the overloading passengers in PUVs, especially in the modernized PUVs.

Usec Gonzales expressed concern over a possible surge in Covid-19 cases, especially with reports of more transmissible Omicron already in the country.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Regional Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said they have been apprehending PUVs violating health protocols, specifically the 70-percent capacity.

Aside from limiting the passenger capacity to 70 percent, the Department of Transportation also mandates PUVs to require the wearing of face masks, not talking and making phone calls, no eating, keeping utility vehicles well ventilated, conducting frequent disinfection, and no passengers with covid-19 symptoms allowed inside the public transportation.

According to Montealto, the LTFRB, together with the LTO and the police, have been conducting operations against violating PUVs.

However, they are now intensifying enforcement efforts and have been making apprehensions, especially those that violated the 70-percent capacity rule.

So far, the LTFRB has apprehended 23 PUVs, 15 on Monday and eight on Tuesday for overloading.

Montealto then reminded PUV operators that it is their responsibility to remind their drivers of the health protocols mandated by DOTr.

He noted that since there are now standing passengers, this meant that the PUVs are carrying over the required capacity.

PUV operators have to pay a fine of P5,000 for every overloading violation, Montealto said.

He admitted that there is a shortage in the number of PUVs serving their routes after typhoon Odette hit since few gasoline stations were operating due to the absence of electricity.

Out of the 846 registered modern PUVs plying Metro Cebu routes, only around 400 are currently operating.

To alleviate the situation, Montealto urged local government units to offer free rides for their constituents, especially during peak hours.

He also called on the private companies to once again resort to offering shuttle services for their employees, just like they did last year.

The owners of tourist vehicles can again apply for special permits, which are issued for free, and sign a contract so they could again be used as service vehicles.

Montealto then stressed the need for the cooperation of everybody since a surge of cases could result in reducing passenger capacity again to 50 percent, which would worsen transportation woes. (PR)

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