Iloilo City, its traffic, officials & public transport system (5)

(The author is a real person who fell in love with Iloilo. He wants to remain anonymous due to some “complications” but still, he raises very valid issues)

Our public transport system within the city limits includes mainly of pedicabs/tricycles, taxis and PUJs.

Pedicabs and tricycles operate mostly in subdivisions and minor roads. However, they can be found also on the nationals roads, where they cause a lot of headaches for all other motorists because they occupy mostly the middle of the road and can hardly be overtaken.

They seem to have very little or NO knowledge of traffic rules and regulations and so disregard them. By this, they endanger their own life and the life of their passengers, especially when they ride/ drive opposite to the flow of traffic and some are even unlit in at night.

I also doubt that all tricycles have a 4-stroke engine as required by law. The officials apparently do very little to keep pedicabs/ tricycles off the national roads, although they promised to do so.

Evidence is the front page of the Daily Guardian on Nov 30 – Dec 1, a tricycle moves unharmed even on the Diversion Road, a high speed national road. I hope all this will change in the process of the envisioned implementation of the Mayor’s “Efficient Traffic Management” plus the “urbanization” of Iloilo City and law and order will be back on our roads.

Another means of transportation are taxis, but they are quite expensive for most people. The newer ones are still in a good condition, but the older ones (more than 2-3 years old) are often poorly maintained and the dress code of most drivers leaves a lot to be desired, especially when picking up domestic and international visitors/guests from the International Airport.

Most of the taxi drivers are trying to make a living by reckless and dangerous driving, they violate more or less ALL traffic rules and regulation and far too often cause traffic congestion. Their excuse is always the same: “I am in a hurry.”

Which of their traffic violations cause the most time-costly congestion? The street markings.

“BROKEN WHITE LINES are to define or separate traffic lanes. Crossing from one lane to the other is allowed IF there is ample passing distance and if the opposing lane is CLEAR of traffic.”

Then there are “SOLID WHITE LANES – which are used to separate opposing streams of traffic. Crossing is unlawful except where ample distance exists and where the opposing traffic lane is CLEAR of traffic.” These are streets with more than one lane either way, like Luna Street – Lapaz, Mc Arthur Highway – Jaro and some others.

Do taxi drivers care about the street markings? NO, they do U-turns whenever and wherever it pleases them causing traffic congestion. Traffic enforcers pay no attention to them, maybe the traffic officials don’t know these rules?

The other problem passengers face is that taxi drivers even refuse short trips, i.e. Ceres terminal to one of the adjacent subdivisions. Often enough passengers have heavy luggage to carry and can’t get a taxi to get to their destinations. That’s another bad violation by taxi drivers.

Last but not least the PUJs have to be mentioned. They carry most of the public to their destinations and have an undisputed monopoly and they love to make the public aware of it by going on strike.

But what have PUJs to offer to the public? Are they really reliable?

Not really, because every few hundred meters we could see a PUJ under repair, be it at the side or in the middle of the road. During the repair, they normally place EWD (Early Warning Device) on the step-board instead of four meters before and after the temporary broken PUJ as per Regulation Ordinance No. 2008-393, the penalty is PhP300.

I have been riding PUJs several times with speed/oil level, cooling water level and petrol level indicators not working or even missing. Do we call that “road-worthy” and safe? Older PUJs struggle to pass a slightly elevated bridge, lots of PUJs show by far too many rusty areas. The pollution these PUJs expel is clearly visible to everyone, but officials seem to be NOT of this group. Now, PUJs 15 years or older are allowed to operate until June 2020, provided they are roadworthy and pass the MVIS test. I am sure all will pass the test successfully and nothing will change, maybe due to some exchange of “gifts.”

On Friday, Nov 22, the PUJ transport system in the downtown area came almost to a still-stand because of a Tagalog speaking police force invasion. Only a few PUJs moved around and most of the PUJs went into hiding because they had something to hide, maybe expired or invalid documents. Did it need a Tagalog speaking police force to confirm that lots of PUJs are operating with expired or invalid documents/ illegally? Apparently it was a pleasure to be in the downtown, no more reckless driving, no more double/triple parking and blocking other cars from progressing. Wouldn’t that be an issue for the transport unions to discuss with their members? And again the PUJ driver lost some income.

I also witnessed how one of these Tagalog speaking police force members stopped a motor-biker who had just crossed the Buhang Bridge on his way to Jaro. Well, there was no mercy nor pity shown or endless discussions involved.

Here now are two questions: “What do the majority of the above 3 groups have in common when they approach a pedestrian crosswalk?” They blow the horn to inform the pedestrians that they will NOT abide by the ‘Pedestrian Protection Act’ and might run them down if they don’t give priority to them. Violating a law is a CRIME, di ba?

“Which of the above groups is far too often involved in a traffic accident?” The drivers of a taxi and PUJ, di ba?

And the irony is, they still ask “How is my driving?”

Isn’t it about time that the officials show as to who is in charge in Iloilo City, read the Traffic Handbook and act accordingly. Around 15-20 years ago we could read everywhere “Observe traffic rules and road courtesy” with the name of the present mayor. What did we get? Worsening, chaotic situations all over Iloilo City. Isn’t it about time for a change for the better?