ROUGH CUTS| A most unfair resolution

Knee jerk reaction!

This and no other adjectival phrase can best describe the move by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to suspend indefinitely the operation of UV Express passenger vans plying the north-bound route from Davao City. The suspension was issued by the LTFRB as an offshoot of the bloody road accident involving a UV Express van and an Isuzu Forward drop side truck at crossing J.P. Laurel National Highway-Crossing Mahayag in Bunawan district Wednesday morning last week. The accident led to the death of eleven people and serious injuries of seven others.

According to Region XI LTFRB transportation development officer Virgilio Gebone Jr. the suspension will affect some 693 north-bound passenger van units.

Frankly, we have nothing against the issuance of such resolution suspending operations of franchises especially those whose units are involved in accidents whose drivers are proven guilty of recklessness, or its operators found negligent in the upkeep of their units to ensure its road worthiness.

But why impose the ban on all other operators whose units are not involved in road accidents? For all we know their drivers are careful in their job and that the operators are regularly monitoring the conditions of their vehicles. It’s like depriving an entire farming community of supply of irrigation water when only one or two farmers are discovered illegally diverting water to their farms.

Imagine the effect of the suspension even if it would only be for a period of 30 days! Some, if not all of the utility vans are procured on financing basis by banks. Suspending its operation for 30 days could mean the operators will have to scrimp whatever resources they have in order not to default on their monthly amortization.

Moreover, with 693 units sidelined for the entire period that the ban is in effect it also means the same number of drivers losing their opportunity to earn money for their families. Again, in the many cases of suspension by the LTFRB of the operation of public utility vehicles because of accidents involving one or two drivers so many families are deprived of food on their table.

According to published reports the resolution of the LTFRB suspending the operation of UV vans plying the north-bound routes from Davao City is also triggered by complaints the board has received about van “drivers engaged in reckless driving and over-speeding, endangering the lives and limbs of the commuting public.”

We supposed that the men and women of LTFRB know the distinction between reports of recklessness and actual observation of the practice by drivers of such undesirable manner of operating public carriers. So, by suspending the operation of the north-bound passenger vans how will the LTFRB people now fairly validate the reports on reckless driving?

The Board may also have the opportunity to look into the road-worthiness of the UV units if all of these are in the garage of operators. But then, again, does the office have the manpower to conduct inspection of all the vehicles concerned? If it intends to outsource the inspection of units, does the LTFRB have the budget to pay for the services of experts who will look into the condition of the vehicles?

With this kind of reaction we are now starting to think that certain weak areas in the government’s handling of the transport system is being exposed; that certain units of another agency regulating transport operation is not really religiously doing its job, or probably cannot effectively do its responsibility for obvious reasons – lack of manpower resources.

And we are actually referring to the Motor Vehicle Inspection Section of the Land Transportation Office (LTO). For isn’t it a major function of that unit to inspect the condition of vehicles from its body to its engine and other accessories prior to giving its clearance for renewal of annual registration?

Of course this is side-stepping from the issue. The LTFRB suspension of the north-bound van operation is the main course of this treatise. So, why not withdraw the resolution and limit the suspension of the operation of the vans of the operator of the unit involved in that Crossing Mahayag accident?

Meanwhile, the LTFRB, the LTO and the Local Government Units where north-bound vans ply can work together to form monitoring groups to validate the reports of recklessness of van drivers. After all there is such a thing as “deputizing” which the LTFRB can very well do if only to solve a problem or problems that it cannot do all by itself.

Is not this proposition fair to those whose UV van units are not, at any time of the existence of their franchise, involved in any road accident?

Cannot the LTFRB do away with its usual knee jerk reaction on cases like the Mahayag smash-ups and similar accidents in the not so distant past in Luzon and the Visayas?


Posted in Opinion