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The disgustingly reactive nature of LTFRB

Just before the Easter holiday, another deadly bus accident occurred when a Dimple star bus fell into a ravine in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

At least 19 people were killed while 21 others were injured.

According to reports, the bus came from a zigzag road, gained speed going downhill and failed to stop.

Initial findings show that the bus may have had brake failure before the driver lost control of the bus.

What’s new?

Much has been said about the sad state of our public utility vehicles (PUV’s) and the dangers they pose to the lives of the riding public.

Whether taxicabs, jeepneys, vans, buses or trains, clearly, our PUV’s are no longer safe for our commuting public.

The Dimple Star incident was an accident waiting to happen. And incidents such as these keep happening, again and again. We do not know why.

What is government doing to address the safety concerns of our commuters?

The investigation that followed the Dimple Star tragedy cast a glaring light on the disgustingly reactive nature of our government regulatory agencies.

As usual, we see officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) inspecting bus terminal facilities, looking at the worn out tires of buses as well as other factors that may have caused the accident.

Then, it immediately issues a preventive suspension order against the bus operator to prevent another bus from traveling.

In the past, we have supported some of the LTFRB’s programs including its decision to slap San Francisco based giant UBER with a month long suspension and a hefty fine because we believed that UBER openly defied the agency.

However, we are extremely troubled by LTFRB’s seeming tendency to wait for a major accident to happen before it takes preemptive action against erring bus, jeepney, UV and taxicab companies.

The LTFRB should be more proactive than reactive.

Several times in this column, we have called the attention of past and present government officials about the sad plight of our commuters.

However, it appears government is not doing anything to address these concerns.

Again, we strongly urge the cancellation of the bus franchise to show that government is serious in ensuring the welfare of commuters.

We also suggest the strict enforcement of the rules and regulations to monitor the status of buses to ensure the safety of passengers especially this summer vacation.

The LTFRB should see to it that the buses have complete requirements and permits before being cleared to ferry thousands of passengers.

For instance, is the LTFRB strict about requiring every bus to periodically report to them every six months or so?

Does it send random inspection teams to bus terminals? Why not impose heftier fines to those found in violation of existing regulations?

LTFRB should also be more judicious in granting franchises to buses, taxicabs, jeepneys and vans. Operations against colorum public vehicles should also be strengthened.

The LTFRB should also subject bus and all public utility drivers to periodic drug testing.

They should also look into the background of Dimple Star to see if any of its buses have previously been involved in an accident.

We are also confused which government agency is primarily responsible for the safety of our riding public?

Is it the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office (LTO), their mother agency, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), or the local government units ( LGU’s)?

We are afraid this alphabet soup of government agencies will only lead to finger-pointing and blame-throwing. Who really is in charge? Who is tasked to enforce the law?

Road accidents leading to the loss of lives cannot keep happening over and over again. One life lost is one life too many.

These victims have families who will suffer from severe economic dislocation upon the demise of their breadwinner.

This tragic accident adds to the long litany of sins committed by the agencies under the DOTr and it cannot go on simply coasting along.

DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade has to step up his performance.

He still has over four years, assuming he is not one of the underperforming cabinet members who will be replaced, to implement various programs to ensure the safety of the riding public.

Government has to show it is not merely paying lip service every time officials of the DOTr, LTO and LTFRB are interviewed on TV and on the radio.

Those who are found guilty of violations should suffer the full force of the law, especially if their transgressions result in the loss of life.

In closing, we would like to pose the following questions to the LTFRB:

Whatever happened to the PUV franchises that the agency previously suspended?

How many of these franchises have been permanently cancelled?

Are the ‘killer PUV’s’ back on the streets?

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