Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welga You Like It Or Not

The bus operators showed us last Monday how they can hold the riding public hostage. Thousands were stranded and they blamed the drivers and conductors for the strike. Yet last Friday, a defiant Claire dela Fuente said that they will call for a transport strike shoud the MMDA impose the number coding on them. With the DoJ and DOTC threatening to revoke their franchise.

Bus operators claim that they have no control over their drivers and conductors. What a lot of crap. No driver or conductor in his right mind would want to lose the only income they have. Clearly, these operators are trying to dodge the bullet. We all know that drivers and conductors have no fixed monthly pay and relies only on commissions (boundary system). You don't drive, you don't earn. Operators set a fixed amount which these people have to meet. Anything over the amount is theirs for the keeping.

The number coding scheme being imposed on them is meant to reduce the number of buses plying the EDSA route. How many empty/half-empty buses do you see on the EDSA during rush hour? There are many. How many of you encounter traffic at every loading and unloading zones for buses? I'm very sure many of you experience this everyday. Because drivers and conductors do not have fixed salaries nor the benefits other employed people do, they try to run as many trips as they can in one day. This is why we see them jockeying for position at every corner and driving like demons on steroids. How many lives have been lost because they try to outrace themselves so they can add a little more to their earnings?

The problem lies in the greed of the operators. They feed on the blood, sweat and tears of the drivers and conductors. I'm very sure that they don't even pay the right taxes. The number coding was to be implemented back in 2003. GMA did not impose it. Perhaps she's afraid that Claire wouldn't do a duet with her. We all know how GMA never had the political will to do take the bull by the horns. These is why NaPoCor has a huge debt and we the people have to shoulder the burden.

I'm enjoying this chicken play between the government and IMBOA. I'd love to see who blinks first. Because the threat of losing their franchises is real, these operators are running to the courts for intervention. EDSA plays a very big role in Metro Manila's economy. As long as a strangling traffic holds up movement, maximum productivity will never be achieved.

Why not revoke all franchises and start from scratch. Cities can create loops for buses. They wouldn't have to fight each other out. Provincial buses should have their terminals in the fringes of Metro Manila. They shouldn't be competing for space on EDSA. I've taken buses in my trips abroad. People walk to stations. Specific stops are assigned to specific buses. The riding public should also learn to share some sacrifices. You want to get off at your doorstep, take a cab. Otherwise, learn to use your feet. I do ot know how this issue will end. EDSA will not widen itself. Every sector involved must sacrifice so that this problem can be addressed.

Drivers and conductors are not slaves. They have the right to earn a decent living. I don't believe that operators are losing money. I also abhor how they use these people as pawns because they want everything for themselves. I hope the LTFRB can conduct a REAL, HONEST TO GOODNESS audit of all franchises so the we can weed out the legitimate from the illegal operators. This would be a good step in the right direction.