DAVAO CITY— Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT) manager Aisa Usop said the operation of bus trips from Metro Manila to Davao City has been approved, and could resume once special permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Davao are issued.
In a phone interview, Usop said the bus terminal of the city has always been ready to receive passengers from other parts of the country, with the health protocols and security measures in place.
“The LTFRB asked for my opinion if it’s okay for buses to travel to Davao. My stand was, the DCOTT terminal is always ready because we have amenities and facilities,” she said.
She said LTFRB will be coordinating coordinate with the offices of the City Tourism and City Health for the enforcement of more stringent health protocols at the bus terminal, which would adopt similar measures that have been enforced at the Davao International Airport in screening the arriving passengers.
“What is being implemented at the airport, the same will be done at our terminal. That’s for our own safety,” she said.
The city government is requiring swab testing for arriving passengers at the DIA with no “negative” COVID-19 test results through reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) that should have been issued within 72 hours before their scheduled departure from the airport of origin.
Once the bus trips resume, Usop added that buses would board passengers at a limited capacity to maintain a one-meter physical distance between passengers—at least two passengers per row— and temperature check and foot baths would be put in place before boarding the buses, to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among passengers.
She said passengers would be required to wear face masks and face shields.
At present, she said the city government was allowing bus travel to other provinces within Davao Region and some parts of Caraga Region. But travels to cities of Butuan, Surigao City, and Tandag in Caraga have been suspended recently due to the implementation of lockdowns amid the rising coronavirus disease cases there, she said.
Mayor Sara Duterte said previously, in her radio program, that the bus travels from Manila have been permitted because the local government wanted to return to “normal” despite the outbreak.
She maintained that disallowing bus travel from the National Capital Region (NCR) was “not a sustainable solution” to address COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because there are more cases in NCR, ideally, we should not allow it but it’s not a sustainable solution to the problem of COVID-19. What we will do at the terminal will be the same as the airport – test and wait – and home quarantine,” she said.
As of September 29, the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 309,303 cases with 252,930 recoveries and 5,448 deaths in the country.
Of this numbers, NCR has reported 162,902 infects, which is the highest in the country, while Davao Region reported 3,135, the highest in Mindanao.