By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
THE Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Tuesday said it would soon organize a task force that would crack down on hundreds of taxis illegally operating in the city.
Aminoden Guro, LTFRB director for northern Mindanao, said the task force would be made up of various government agencies and offices to help the LTFRB in carrying out a campaign to keep cars being used as taxis without franchises off Cagayan de Oro’s roads.
“We are going to create a joint task force to show that we are serious in our campaign against illegal taxi operators and drivers,” Guro said.
On Monday, Guro faced the city council that inquired about the proliferation of so-called “colorum” taxis and vans used for public land transport without the approval of the LTFRB. The matter was brought to the attention of the city council last week by Councilor Roger Abaday.
The LTFRB said the city has about 2,770 taxis with franchises, and at least 300 taxis operating illegally.
Responding to the complaints, Guro asked city hall for help by making the Roads and Traffic Administration (RTA) beef up LTFRB’s enforcement group. He said the RTA can field at least 10 of its traffic law enforcers to help LTFRB.
Guro said the LTFRB here has manpower problems, and that it could not field its personnel to make apprehensions regularly. He, however, said the LTFRB has impounded 50 vehicles that have been illegally used for public transportation in recent months.
The LTFRB regional office, he said, only has 15 regular employees and 10 “job-order” workers dealing with thousands of operators from all over Region 10.
“The number of franchisees has increased, but the employees have not. Our workload in the office is already heavy, that’s why we don’t conduct anti-‘colorum’ operations as often as we want to,” Guro told reporters.
Guro said an augmentation force composed of RTA enforcers, Land Transportation Office personnel, and police officers would be enough for them to conduct apprehensions regularly.
“Due to our limited manpower, we cannot do this on our own. We need any help that we can get,” he said.
Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya said the problem could be solved with “force multiplication” in law enforcement.
“We include the taxi operators and drivers as the multipliers in the enforcement,” he said. “We can enforce the law by calling upon the stakeholders themselves like the taxi drivers and operators to police their own ranks. We don’t have to go further if we really want to enforce it.”
Councilor Enrico Salcedo said he could not understand why the “colorums” have continued to mushroom in the city despite the stiff fines imposed on violators.
“Bisan dako ang multa niadtong ‘colorum’ taxi nga masikop, magahom gihapon nga malukat sa mga tag-iya aron makapadayon sa ilang pagpamasahero, butang nga akong gikatingala ug gikalibgan,” Salcedo was quoted as saying in a news dispatch from the city council.
Guro said he has noted that one of the factors for the increase in illegally operated taxis in the city is due to duplication of body numbers. This, he said, is being done by taxi operators that were granted franchises.
For instance, he said, an owner of five registered taxis can use the body numbers of other taxis to avoid paying fees, additional franchises, and even for insurance coverage.