Knock on wood

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Friday, March 7, 2014


IN SPAIN, it is traditional to touch wood after an event occurs that is considered to bring bad luck. That was supposedly why people would knock on wood to avert tragedy.

No one knocked on wood when Director Romulo Bernardes of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in Western Visayas Region assured commuters that buses plying our national highways in the region are “road-worthy.”

That’s because Ceres Liner owns 70 to 80 percent of the buses plying Western Visayas, according to Bernardes who was awestruck it seems with Ceres’s mandatory preventive maintenance and its drivers’ defensive driving.

This week, Bernardes is eating crow. Defensive driving? Tell that to the four persons who were killed and 33 others were injured the other day when a Ceres bus slammed into the mini bus they were riding in Hinigaran.

Fatalities in the horrific accident were a pregnant woman and the mini-bus conductor, whose head was severed on impact.

Vallacar Transit’s Ceres Cebu-Bacolod bus no. 541 drove to the wrong lane when it hit the mini bus.

Bernardes has to suspend seven Vallacar Transit Inc.’s Ceres buses included in the franchise of its bus that figured in the accident. He will recommend the suspension of the buses to the LTFRB national office.

Somehow, the suspension feels like a reactive rather than a pro-active step. As the Americans would say, it’s like closing the barn door after the cows have fled.

At least, no one is blaming bad luck or the road. How I—and the victims’ families—wish the accident was as simple as that.

Then perhaps, we can just collectively knock on wood, or avoid crossing paths with a black cat or walking under a ladder. Then voila we dispel the possibility of future accidents.

The real world, however, works differently. That’s why we need the LTFRB to crack its whip on all transportation companies.

It should have learned from its regulatory lapses that caused the bus to fall from Metro Manila’s Skyway and the G.V. Florida bus that fell in the ravine in Mt. Province.

Because of regulatory lapses, LTFRB later found out that the ill-fated G.V. Florida bus had no registered license plate and no permit to operate, thus its passengers were not insured.

Will Ceres Liner do what the company G.V. Florida does and shoulder the death benefits of the fatalities and the hospitalization of the injured? Let’s see what it would do.

Moreover, what would be the accountability of the LTFRB—and of Bernardes in particular—on the accident? He was quite smug on Ceres’s mandatory preventive maintenance and its drivers’ defensive driving that he waived the need to inspect Ceres.

What would be LTFRB’s next step to ensure that accidents like this will not happen again? We will closely monitor the news on the regulatory body’s next moves.

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 07, 2014.

Opinion

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