SOME traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJ) may resume plying Cebu City streets on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, as soon as the drivers comply with the requirements and their units pass inspection.
Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, who chairs the city’s Jeepney Task Force, said Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) personnel will start inspecting the units and the drivers’ compliance on Friday.
Each TPUJ unit will be checked for roadworthiness, installation of barriers and drop box for the fare, provision of disinfectant and display of a poster listing the health protocols. Each unit will also be required to undergo an emission test.
Each inspection is expected to last for about 45 minutes. The one-stop shop is seen to process up to 100 TPUJ units a day.
Only upon inspection of the units and submission of the requirements, such as a positive swab test result and a certificate from the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO), will a TPUJ be allowed to resume operations.
As of Wednesday, Nov. 18, however, the Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) has not released the results of the pooled swab testing that its personnel conducted on hundreds of drivers.
One-stop shop schedule
On Friday, Cuenco said TPUJs from Guadalupe and Lahug routes will be prioritized for inspection because these have the biggest passenger volume.
For the Guadalupe-Carbon route, Cuenco said only around 40 drivers have registered so far for the inspection.
He said this might be because some drivers are not confident that their units would pass the inspection.
The schedule for the other routes is: Nov. 23 for Labangon; Nov. 24 for Basak Pardo-Bulacao; Nov. 25 for Mambaling and Inayawan; and Nov. 26 for Talamban and Pit-os.
Those that fail the initial inspection may try to complete the requirements and submit to another inspection on Nov. 27.
Even after a unit is inspected and other requirements are complied with, Cuenco said the driver would not be allowed to resume operations without the pooled testing results from DOH 7.
DOH 7 started conducting pooled swab testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Oct. 16.
CCTO deputy head for operations Paul Gotiong said that once a unit passes the inspection, the LTFRB will issue a special permit and CCTO will issue the travel line.
An identification card will be issued to the drivers after they submit a negative swab test result and attend a seminar to be conducted by the CCTO.
Gotiong said the seminar started last Nov. 12. Up to 40 drivers are scheduled to attend per seminar.
Cuenco said TPUJ operations will be allowed to resume gradually so that necessary adjustments may be made immediately.
He said drivers need to “religiously follow” the health protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields, observance of physical distancing and provision of disinfectant.
He said marshalls will be deployed in the different routes to monitor and ensure that TPUJs are observing the health protocols.
The units of drivers who violate the guidelines will be suspended.
Cuenco also warned that the Balik Pasada program may be suspended in case of a spike in new coronavirus infections that could be traced to TPUJ operations.
“Simbako (God forbid), if we will experience a considerably high amount of infections then we will be forced, through the mayor, we will be forced to suspend the rollout,” he said.
“We’ll go back to square one. Our efforts will be all for naught,” he added.
Cuenco said the Cebu City Government will consider allowing the entry of TPUJs from other local government units such as Talisay City in the south and Mandaue City in the north only after TPUJs in Cebu City have resumed operations.
The LTFRB Central Visayas earlier allowed 1,720 TPUJ units to resume operations in Cebu City in a bid to address the lack of public transport units serving the increasing number of people who have returned to work amid the easing of quarantine restrictions.
Once the TPUJs from other LGUs are allowed entry, the drivers must follow the rules set by the Cebu City Government, Cuenco said.
Meanwhile, the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) will deploy additional Police Traffic Unit personnel to ensure physical distancing and compliance to other health protocols in TPUJs.
Police Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, CCPO deputy director, said they will strictly implement the health protocols and recommend the immediate suspension of units whose drivers fail to observe these.
He urged all TPUJ drivers to comply with all documentary requirements and ensure that their units pass the inspection.
He warned that traffic policemen will confiscate the driver’s license and issue a temporary operator’s permit (TOP) in case of violations.
He stressed that the public should not be complacent. (PAC / JJL / AYB)