By Jun Ledesma

Inday Sara keeps punching

February 18, 2020, 2:58 pm

UNDER the leadership of Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio Davao City has embarked on projects which were inconceivable in the past. Noticeable among these are the underground cabling of power and telecommunications cable and the High Priority Bus System.

Except for the hassle to motorists and pedestrians caused by excavations that had been there for over a year, the under-grounding of cables can be endured as ultimately the messy aerial lines will finally be a thing of the past.

The HPBS, however, is a different story. About 12,300 jeepneys that involve an equal number of drivers and 7,000 operators will be affected. The jeepneys, about 90% of which are called multi-cabs, are different from the Sarao models that ply In Metro Manila streets. The ‘multicabs’ were actually salvaged from the vehicle graveyards in Japan and were smuggled through Davao ports in “chop-chop” conditions. These were reassembled later in shops in nearby Panabo and Tagum cities which surprisingly are authorized by the Department of Trade and Industry before the Duterte era to convert these junks from right to left-hand drive. The Land Transportation and Land Transportation Franchising Board then registers the units. I personally am not aware of how many reasons were raised to justify this transmogrification of a “chop-chop” junks to become the principal means of transportation of Davao City. The riding public is left with no choice. The passenger space is so cramped while the head clearance so low no wonder the units are called “rolling coffins”.

Mayor Inday Sara has taken the bold decision to rid the city streets with "multicab" passenger jeeps.  She is prepared to take the political impact of it all. Not less than 1,000 units of brand new passenger buses will be fielded to serve the growing populace of this prime business and communication center of Mindanao.

Her detractors are quick to defame her claiming that thousands of drivers will be out of job and operators will be deprived of income. But Inday had made an assurance that the drivers who will man the new buses will come from their ranks. However, she made it clear that the aspirants will have to be retrained and re-educated with respect to traffic rules and regulations and road courtesy. The city government is also prepared to recompense affected operators.  HPBS will give rise to a decent transport industry and therefore will generate additional employment.

Against those who are opposed to change are hundreds of thousands of commuters many of whom are students and workforces who are often stranded especially during rainy days. Multicab jeepneys have very low chassis height and are easily stalled in half-a-knee flash floods and therefore would not risk plying the streets. In many instances, city hall authorities will ask bus operators to field their units to ferry stranded passengers.

We are now on the 5-G and magnetic levitation era but sadly the Philippines is the only country in the world with a BBB category (Investment Grade) from the three top credit rating agencies in New York that uses jeepneys fit with WWII engines of salvaged military vehicles to ferry passengers.  These should be consigned to museums while the rest to the smelting plants.

Well, if they cannot do it in the national capital region, Mayor Inday Sara will show the way.  I too have another wish. As a senior citizen, I want to see the Davao City streets and thoroughfares including the pedestrian lanes and walkways be people-friendly. We are not into an obstacle race. Since there are diggings all over in the stretch of the city avenues where the cables are being laid underground we might as well put a new asphalt concrete coat on the affected street/s and adopt the world engineering standard of pedestrian and road construction. Many if not all of our city councilors have traveled worldwide, I am sure they have some standards to cite.  

With the feisty mayor in the helm, many a dream will become pulsating realities. Keep punching Inday Sara.




About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.