With transport curbs, govt urged to resort to service contr…

With transport curbs, govt urged to resort to service contr…

WITHOUT assisting public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers, the government risks a transport paralysis, which could lead to an economic recession, a coalition of transport advocates warned.

Move As One, a coalition of 134 organizations and 11,000 transport advocates, said to avoid this scenario, the government should implement service contracting to protect transport workers and ensure adequate public transportation in areas under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

“Service contracting is not new to the transport sector or the government. In fact, several cities contracted jeeps and tricycles to provide free transport for essential workers during the lockdown. DOTr used a service contracting model to augment the services of Edsa MRT when it was in crisis,” Mandaue-Sabang-Danao Multicab Operators and Drivers Multipurpose Cooperative Manager Angie Mata said.

Under service contracting, the government pays the operators and drivers a per-kilometer fee to run the routes. This is far different from the prevailing “boundary system,” in which earnings are based on the number of passengers ferried.

With GCQ rules requiring PUVs to cut their capacities in half, operators and drivers are expected to take a loss should they operate. This may mean that they are better off  suspending their services than operating at a loss.

Move As One has proposed to the government a P30-billion package to contract out thousands of PUVs nationwide. This is part of its so-called P110-billion Biyahenihan Package that will reform the transport sector amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Serving the public under those conditions, with reduced incomes and increased risks of infection, may be too much to ask of the transport sector. Many of them may opt not to run or may not earn enough income to survive,” Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT) Vice President Miles Reyes said.

Service contracting, according to National Confederation of Transport Workers Union President Ernie Cruz, will provide safeguards for the drivers and operators, who solely rely on their jobs to feed their families.

“This policy will protect the families of millions of transport workers who are now on the brink of starvation, especially those who did not receive the promised aid,” he explained.

Move As One called this initial phase of service contracting a “just transition,” as it not only promotes the welfare of commuters, but also safeguards the income of drivers and operators.

“Before the Covid-19 crisis, we were already in a transportation crisis—with commuters suffering the hardship of crowded vehicles, long trips and major delays. Bus and jeepney drivers and operators were already struggling to get by. The enhanced community quarantine put the crisis on hold, but the GCQ, without an adequate supply of public transportation, threatens to multiply the crisis, exacerbating the risks to public health and the economy,” Komyut Convenor Toix Cerna said.

The government investment into the transport sector, Move As One added, will also “protect the jobs of the 88 percent of households who do not have cars…and ensure the safety of 20 million students.”

The coalition continued: “Workers need to get to their jobs. Employers need their workers. The economy will suffer another blow if businesses can’t restart because their workers can’t get to the office, or the factory or if their workers get sick.”

Image Credits: Bernard Testa

Moving & Transportation Services CEO Jonathan Cartu

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