Rough Cuts | Another heavy burden

THE PLAN  of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to have every unit of taxicabs all over the country installed with close circuit television cameras (CCTV) in a few months’ time is another heavy burden on the part of taxi drivers. Yes, it would be the problem of taxi drivers as the operators are most likely to pass on the cost to the account of the drivers in a most tricky manner.

This additional burden is over and above the cost of affiliating the taxi units with some existing transport network vehicle service (TNVS) to have the units installed with hailing application. This is also a separate requirement from the installation of dash board camera earlier required by the LTFRB.
If we have to listen to the rationalization of the LTFRB for imposing such requirements it would appear that the intention is for the benefit not only of the driver but that of the riding public as well. But the possible real motive of such plan is betrayed by the statement of top LTFRB officials that installation of the gadgets will make the taxi units at par with the vehicles plied under the TNVS groups.
Why should the LTFRB make it mandatory on the part of taxi units to keep abreast with those operated under the TNVS? Why not let the operators decide whether they want their units have more chances of being hailed by passengers by making these attractive to their sight? Why not let the passengers decide if they feel safe inside a taxicab unit whether this has or has no dash camera or CCTV?
Imagine how much will the operators cough up in cash to procure and install such gadgets if they have even just 10 units? Worst, we heard reports that in the case of the dash cam installation, this was made a requirement for the resealing or recalibration of taxi meters when the flag down rate was reverted to P40 starting early this year.
Yes, even safety these days, especially for commuters, is far from being free. For those who are in the business of providing transport services, they need to immediately produce the cash to buy the gadgets that guarantee safe and secure ride. And for those who are driving transport vehicles like taxicabs, they stand to be confronted with a double whammy. First they stand to lose income because more commuters who used to take taxi may now opt for buses or PUJs the fares of which are much lower.
Second, as we said earlier in this piece, the possibility is that the cost of the additional gadgets planned by the LTFRB to be installed in taxi units would most likely be passed on to the drivers even if on installment basis deductible from their daily boundary.
But even as all taxi operators and the commuting public would be unhappy with this proposal by the LTFRB, some businessmen and “enterprising” unscrupulous officials at the agency would be eagerly awaiting for the potentially “profitable” business “partnership.”
Who is the businessman who would not think of huge money from the manufacture and sale of CCTV cameras and accessories, as well as installation services fees with hundreds of thousands of taxi units all over the country? In Davao City alone there are roughly five thousand taxi units.
Clearly, the taxi companies in the country are already one big captured market for the gadgets required by the LTFRB. And considering that it would be a mandatory requirement for all taxi units to be renewed franchise then the operators would have no other option but to comply.
And how much, by the way, does one CCTV camera unit cost including installation? Multiply it by the number of units all over the country and the money would total to a mind-boggling amount.
How much could be earned in terms of “commissions,” “finder’s fees,” and simple payment of “debts of gratitude?”
Indeed some “geniuses” either within the LTFRB or those in the marketing arm of the gadget manufacturing companies are like rust. They never sleep thinking of what strategy to massively market their products at all cost and in a way hardly suspected of a potential source of corruption.
Is there really some cleansing processes at the LTFRB under the watch of Davaoeno lawyer Martin Delgra?
A closer scrutiny of the agency under him would reveal that he and his board are being waylaid by some scheming individuals who have the articulateness to convince the agency leadership to adopt ideas that, in the end, fatten the bank accounts of the businessmen and those of their own.

Posted in Opinion