Let’s talk, not strike

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

THERE was no transpo strike last Monday when the Cebu South Mini Bus, the National Confederation of Transportworkers' Union and the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Cooperative agreed to discuss the problems with the operators and the government.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon announced that the transport groups would submit to transport offices a review of the new “oppressive” increase of fines and penalties for traffic violations in the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) of the Land Transportation Office, the Department of Transportation and Communications and LTFRB.

Penalties touch on the matter, among many, of the driver violating even simple traffic rules, like against crossing a double yellow line, or entering a do-not-enter lane, or against stopping in the wrong areas for the driver to relieve himself. The increase in fines and penalties has sent cabbies sighing, “Sus, asa ko anang P5,000 penalty,” as the cabbie puts it.


The case isn’t as bad as in Dubai where the Dubai Misdemeanours Court recently sent to jail to stay there for six months a Pakistani taxi driver who parked his cab at the road side to make pee nearby. He was jailed “for urinating in public.” It doesn't say if the violator was given the chance for bail and how much the penalty was.

The taxi driver of the cab I took some days ago said that, so far, he hasn't violated rules under the JAO rulings with increase in penalties. Still, he’s watching out in order not to commit traffic “don’ts.” But a driver's posture can be difficult, in the use of public transport. You take care not to violate transit rules but what if the driver next to you on the road doesn't care?

In the new rulings under the JAO provisions, the driver is said to have no chance to contest the violation and has only 15 days as the period within to pay the penalty or have his license suspended for 30 days.

I’ll stop driving but where can I find another way to earn a living, asked the man who has three children and a wife to feed (besides the cousins and other relatives).

Then there's the matter of updates on rules between the road users and the traffic enforcers. How often are the drivers updated on changes in road signs or how strict is the driver keeping up with rulings?

For some years, I was passing by a road along A. Soriano St. and would turn left off SM Cebu. I could close my eyes and get to follow the car’s heartbeat in the usual left turn. But I realized on time that the traffic enforcers had put in a no-left-turn sign perhaps a day before that. I stepped on the brake and looked at the signs at the road corner which, after all these years, now has a new message: No left turn. The simple sign was lost among the other old and new signs.

What do you mean by “no parking,” asked the driver. He says that sometimes he hears about public transport drivers being penalized for waiting in the wrong side of the street.

What’s the difference between parking and waiting? According to the cabbie, parking means the car is there with the machine put off and the driver not in sight. Waiting in no-stopping area, with the machine on and the driver waiting inside, doesn’t mean parking, says the driver.

As for the no-stopping areas, it’s strange but many passengers wait for rides in these areas so that public transpo drivers would always take the chance to dare and stop there, quickly hauling in commuters.

No, the proposed transport strike didn’t get through, thank God. It’s between drivers, operators and the government to talk and discuss the problems together.

But if there's no bond between transport groups and their drivers, as well as the government, reforms won’t show and bad traffic could lead to more accidents and heartaches.

“Mao na nga karon, ma’am, magsunod na lang gyud ko sa rules,” said the driver, as though to make a promise, but to keep it only for a time? (ecuizon@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 27, 2014.


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