By JIGGER JERUSALEM
and NITZ ARANCON
GOVERNMENT agencies have been inspecting public areas of convergence since Monday to make sure that those who are homeward bound for the holidays are safe while traveling.
Inspecting the Bulua and Agora bus terminals was a joint team from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Land Transportation Office, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board in Region 10.
PDEA regional director Wilkins Villanueva said they conducted surprise drug tests on at least 311 bus drivers and their aides in Northern Mindanao.
“This is to ensure the safety of our riding public so that when they return to their homes during the Holy Week, they will arrive safe and sound because our drivers are drug-free,” Villanueva said.
Those who test positive for illegal drugs would be reported to LTO and LTFRB and will have their licenses confiscated as they are required to undergo the barangay-based rehabilitation program, he said.
Once they have completed the intervention, the PDEA will recommend for their reinstatement, the regional director added.
For his part, LTFRB regional director Aminoden Guro said they are checking the health of the bus drivers, and if they have a medical condition, they will not be allowed to drive.
Guro said the government wants to make sure that all bus drivers would be fit to work and buses would be roadworthy especially this week when many people would be traveling home, hence, “Oplan Biyahing Ayos.”
He said the campaign was launched as early as April 8 and would be intensified until April 25.
“We are also checking the roadworthiness of the buses and see to it that there will be no overloading of passengers,” Guro said.
The team has been inspecting the buses’ tires, breaks, headlights, signal lights, wipers, windshields, and horns, among others.
Guro reminded bus companies to have two drivers for each bus.“Kanang mobiyahi sa Davao, Surigao, Zamboanga ug uban pang lugar, subra man sa unom ka oras ilang biyahi anang mga lugara. Amo silang gi-require nga na-ay ilang extra driver.”
He also warned against overloading, adding that the “no standing” policy would be strictly implemented. “Kinahanglan gyud walay pasahero nga magtindog. Kon na-ay magtindog, dili namo sila palargahon.”
Guro has also advised commuters to be wary of “colorum” or taxis and vans operating without franchise as these have no insurance policies.
“If these ‘colorum’ taxis and vans will figure in a road accident, the passengers cannot avail of insurance,” he added.
LTO regional director Nelson Manaloto urged the riding public to report to the transportation authorities bus drivers and aides who are not observing decorum while on duty.
Manaloto said they inspected buses last week and ordered their owners not to allow defective buses to operate.
Meanwhile, Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. branch manager Jessie Boy Lentorio has assured that all their buses and drivers are “well-prepared.”
Lentorio said it is mandatory for all the RTMI to only allow buses that are in good running condition.
“We won’t allow them to travel if there are problems. We are concerned with the maintenance aspect of our units,” he said.
RTMI is one of the country’s biggest bus companies with more than 300 units operating in Mindanao.