By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – The first Monday under general community quarantine (GCQ) in the city and the province of Iloilo brought massive transportation problems for commuters.
Commuters on Monday wait for public transportation in Iloilo City. No public jeepneys in the city were able to operate after failing to comply with requirements to operate safely against COVID-19. (Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin)
“Today is such a disaster for commuters. The hassle is epic,” observed Jezza Nepomuceno, a government worker who passed by stranded commuters at a transportation terminal.
Many tried to flock to Iloilo City from the towns of Iloilo province as workers were supposed to report back to work at establishments allowed to open under GCQ.
But there were not enough public utility vehicles (PUVs) to accommodate the sudden swell in the number of riding public.
For instance, there were reports that some commuters in the towns of Iloilo province had to wait two to three hours to ride a bus that will transport them to Iloilo City.
When they arrived in Iloilo City, it turned out that there were no public jeepneys when it was previously announced by authorities that public jeepneys will be available by May 18.
None of the jeepneys was able to operate Monday because operators and drivers failed to obtain special permits to operate from authorities.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) required jeepney drivers and operators to provide alcohol or hand sanitizers for passengers while installing plastic dividers to implement physical distancing as precautionary measure against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
With the lack of public jeepneys, Ceres buses were still allowed to transport commuters within Iloilo City.
Meanwhile, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas is appealing to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to allow back riders in motorcycles after the LTO banned it, and even issued citation tickets to violators.
The executive order of Treñas for GCQ allowed back-riding as long as the driver and passenger belong to the same family or household.
On the other hand, Governor Arthur Defenor Jr. may amend his executive order allowing back-riding with LTO’s pronouncement.