By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
A “people’s terminal” will rise for jeepneys and buses of southern Iloilo similar to that of Pavia town.
Southern Iloilo drivers and operators have no choice. Iloilo City has become hostile ground. The local government and bogus transport leaders blame them for traffic congestion and diminishing income of city loop drivers, thus, the lobby to declare the city off-limits to them.
The first sign came during the unlamented lordship of Jerry Trenas (2001-2010) in the form of the Perimeter Boundary Ordinance (PBO) in 2003, ostensibly to ease road congestions.
The PBO started off with the twisted logic that provincial jeepneys were the major cause of traffic snarls despite opposition from Pierre Clavel, regional director of the Land Transportation Regulatory and Franchising Board (LTFRB).
Clavel blamed private vehicles for the daily grind for two reasons: first, they out-numbered PUJs 10 to one, and second, they were parked in busy streets, some diagonally, vertically even. They belonged to the rich and famous who had the gumption to treat public roads their personal garage. They enjoyed unrestricted right to obstruct roads.
Trenas, now a member of Congress, is yet to answer an issue raised by this space that the PBO’s intent is to solve everything except traffic. It has been enacted to legalize a broad daylight robbery with terminals serving as collection booths.
Trenas is yet to answer this space’s contention that he and a sibling control one of the biggest PUJ terminals in Iloilo City.
The PBO restricted the entry of provincial jeepneys and buses in the city proper by consigning them in privately owned terminals in the outskirts. Only those with “car passes” can proceed to the Iloilo Terminal Market (ITM) or Super Market while the rest wait in these terminals. Those proceeding to the city are barred from taking passengers.
PBO hurts commuters, whether provincial or otherwise, as it makes travel costlier and more circuitous. Passengers have to disembark at the terminals instead of the previous practice where their carriers could directly unload cargoes and people along the route to the Super Market
Provincial PUJ owners, on the other hand, must pay two terminals fees per trip, first, at the private terminal (P20 for jeepneys and P40 for buses per trip) and second, at the ITM (P20). Jeepney associations are forced to increase membership dues because instead of paying only one dispatcher, they have to hire another one.
The roads around the ITM initially looked decongested. But it did not take one month to be overcrowded again, this time, by hordes of vendors, “ukay-ukay” wares, eateries and what-not setting up shops that worsened traffic snarl.
Neither have the roads far from the ITM been decongested. New franchises and routes sprung to fill the vacuum caused by restrictions on provincial jeepneys. The private terminals at Jaro and Mojon, Villa Arevalo, themselves have become traffic bottlenecks.
The city government earns nothing from the terminals. The racket goes to private pockets to include city hall officials in their shadowy personal capacities.
The municipal government of Pavia has a successful alternative—and earns revenues in the process—by establishing a “people’s terminal” which charges only P20 per vehicle per day regardless of the number of trips.
Southern Iloilo PUJ associations have firmed up a resolution making Oton town their common terminal. All cargoes and passengers are to be unloaded in Oton and they will no longer proceed to Iloilo City.
We welcome that development if only to jolt the city government from its parochial slumber.
Provincial PUJs perform an invaluable role in transporting people and goods to and from Iloilo.
They bring life to the economies of both Iloilo city and province, as their territorial border is a mere fiction. The growth of one benefits the other and pain of one also hurts the other. City hall racketeers and bogus transport leaders in contrast see provincial drivers as villains.
In 2008, days before Typhoon Frank, Leon and central Iloilo jeepneys patronized the Pavia People’s Terminal and refused to go farther. The smaller city jeepneys could only carry portions of their cargoes. Prices of vegetables soared as result to the chagrin of consumers.
The same is expected once the people’s terminal in Oton operates.
Smart alecks have succeeded in their divide-and-rule ploy, of pitting drivers and operators among themselves by peddling the crap that provincial jeepneys are enemies of the city loop.
They ignored something that bound and mobilized them to common action before. Drivers’ income continues to dwindle because of their single, biggest enemy, the Oil Cartel whose greed for super profits explains for skyrocketing fuel prices.
Something which bogus transport leaders deliberately skipped.