In the midst of the brouhaha over the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) only getting tough on the operation of Angkas recently, all I can say is better late than never.
With the reality that there is a law that prohibits a single motorcycle to be used for commercial public transport, Angkas never hid their online-based motorcycle-for-hire (habal-habal) system from the authorities.
Through their social media page, they recruited habal-habal drivers and promoted their operation and services to the public.
Based on feedback from friends and students who availed of the services of Angkas, I yet have to receive a negative comment in comparison to the operation of ordinary habal-habal drivers who are very aggressive in picking passengers in almost all areas in the city.
My informant told me that Angkas drivers are more courteous, disciplined and conscious about safety for their passengers on the road. The best comment that I received is that when you hail Angkas, you forego the haggling for the fare while ordinary habal-habal drivers usually overcharge.
Another positive view regarding Angkas is that they provide motorcycle helmets, face masks, hair net and raincoats to their passengers and never overload by carrying more than one passenger, unlike the ordinary habal-habal who subjects their passenger to acrobatic stunts by loading more up to four passengers.
Notwithstanding the positive comments I got from several sources regarding the operation of Angkas, it still did not change the fact that they are illegally operating like the other habal-habal motorcycles that are now dominating the city streets.
Single motorcycle-for-hire only used to operate in hinterland areas not served by the legitimate mass transport system. Aside from Angkas, most habal-habal drivers and operators are organized based on the area they are circulating and could be identified based on the uniforms they wear.
This is the fourth article that I wrote calling authorities on the illegal motorcycle-for-hire operation in the major city streets. But everything fell on deaf ears.
Despite being organized, habal-habal drivers continue to be the nuisance in the road by disregarding traffic rules and converting sidewalks as their terminal not to mention the exorbitant fare they charge their passengers.
I’m almost resigned to the fact that habal-habal operations could not be stopped and start to accept that despite the danger it brings to the commuters, it is inevitable in a city that failed to foresee, plan and implement a mass transport system for its growing populace.
The question now is, what could have triggered LTFRB to suddenly awaken from their snooze, apprehend Angkas riders and threaten to hail to the court the incorporators of the transport company if they would not voluntarily stop their operation?
There is nothing illegal in the LTFRB’s move to stop Angkas operations because that is their mandate.
But in the bar of public opinion, the agency’s action together with other government agencies helping to apprehend Angkas drivers appeared weird and questionable.
Being proactive is not found in the vocabulary of many government agencies including LTFRB, and this problem with Angkas could not have been escalated this far if concerned government agencies subdued their operation at the first sign of its existence.