Transport leaders, Bacolod officials wrangle over free rides

Bacolod City PIO Photo

By Dolly Yasa


BACOLOD City – Transport group leaders here scored the city government here for lack of coordination in tapping 42 jeepney drivers to ferry frontliners, government workers, and essential services while the city is under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until Sept 30, 2020.

Diego Malacad, president of the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC) which has more than 19,000 jeepney, taxi and tricycle drivers as members, told Daily Guardian on Monday that the city government did not coordinate with them nor were they invited to a meeting with jeepney drivers on Sunday night.

A press statement from the Public Information Office late Sunday night said that Councilor Cindy Rojas and Councilor Dindo Ramos led the meeting with the presidents of various jeepney organizations in Bacolod City Sunday afternoon [Sept. 13] to finalize the “Libre Sakay” Program that started Monday.

The statement said that 42 jeepneys will ply the seven major routes in Bacolod City to cater to healthcare, medical, and essential services workers.

The jeepneys will start operations from 4:30 am to 10:30 pm with 2-hour intervals.

The Bacolod Traffic Authority Office (BTAO) will assign one personnel per route to assist the passengers.

The “central drop-off” will be at the Bacolod City Public Plaza.

Malacad said the city government did not even bother to coordinate with their group before talking to the drivers.

He added that his sentiments were shared by two other transport group leaders in the city.

Malacad said they were surprised Monday that there were jeepneys plying the city streets and the drivers told them they were contracted for P3,000 for eight trips.

He said that the city government should have at least met them to hear their proposal which is to utilize the odd-even scheme to ensure lesser number of vehicles in the street.

“Bacolod is No. 1 in COVID cases, it will also be No. 1 in drivers who will die,” Malacad said.

When reached for comment, Rojas said it was Ramos who contacted the jeepney representatives.

“Akon ya obra nag present lang ko sang routes sa ila,” Rojas said.

Ramos said he was not able to reach Malacad because it was “short notice” when Mayor Evelio Leonardia tasked them on the “Libre Sakay” program.

He said they met with the mayor only on Saturday to discuss the matter.

Ramos said he asked a jeepney group leader to contact the presidents of the jeepney routes involved in the program to hasten things up.

He said it was a matter of urgency.

Ramos also said he did not have the contact number of Malacad and the two other transport group leaders, like Jessie Ortega who lives in Talisay City and cannot travel to Bacolod to join the discussions.

He further said that “what is important is we address the problem of bringing our medical and essential workers to their workplaces.”

He added that the drivers will operate on a rotation basis.