Suspension of classes forced drivers not to ply routes
NOT every jeepney driver who didn’t ply his usual route yesterday joined the transport strike, at least according to some of them.
The scarcity of passengers in some parts of Cebu City after some schools suspended their classes also forced some drivers not to go to work, said Rudy Laconza of the Alliance of Transport Organization Member Intra Cebu City (Atomic).
“How can the drivers go to work when there are no classes?” Laconza said in a radio interview.
While the Cebu City government didn’t suspend classes in the city, several private schools decided not to hold classes due to the strike.
These schools included the University of San Jose-Recoletos on Magallanes Street, the University of San Carlos elementary and high departments and Colegio del Sto Niño.
Laconza said students constituted the bulk of their passengers while 20 to 30 percent were workers.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor for police matters, said several drivers complained about the city’s deployment of buses because it competed with them.
“Some drivers had asked that the buses would not be deployed since these would eat up their earnings,” he said.
Tumulak said he was monitoring the progress of the transport strike to assess if there was a need to deploy more buses.
City Hall sent out 10 buses starting at 6 a.m. to ferry passengers.
But officials ordered the pullout of these buses by 8 a.m. after they saw fewer stranded passengers in the streets.
The Pinag-isang Samahan nga mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) members started to converge in several parts of Cebu City as early as 4 a.m.
They were outside Shopwise in Barangay Basak, Land Bank of the Philippines Osmeña Boulevard branch, Andoks in Barangay Mabolo and Fooda in Barangay Banilad.
Laconza said while he shared the sentiments of Piston against the planned phase out of old jeepney units, holding protest actions was still too early.
Laconza said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is still in the planning stage on how to implement the proposed phase out.
He said drivers and operators still have more than enough time to improve their units to avoid their phase out.
Laconza said about five percent of the units plying city streets badly need an overhaul to make them roadworthy.
Laconza said he is more worried about plans to operate the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the city because this will surely displace PUJ drivers.
He said a Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in the city is better since it won’t affect jeepneys.
Jovie Rosales, a Piston team leader, said most operators cannot afford to buy a new jeepney nor upgrade their existing models.
He said upgrading one passenger jeepney would cost P1.4 million to P1.6 million.
Rosales also said only rich operators and companies can afford buses but they would charge commuters more for their rates.
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