While drivers fume, ferries gain steam-A A +A
Thursday, February 28, 2013
INSIDE his jeepney, Andy Andalajao watched a film starring Robin Padilla on a portable DVD player.
“Hinay kaayo ron (It’s a slow day),” the 35-year-old driver said. He decided to watch a movie yesterday while waiting for his turn to load passengers at the jeepney terminal in Barangay Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City.
It was almost 4 p.m. but Andalajao, who travels to Mandaue, had yet to make his fourth round. Normally, he makes seven rounds from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. But for the past two days, he only managed to make four.
Since repairs of the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge started, Andalajao said his daily earnings have decreased by half.
But while the repairs and sluggish traffic made drivers worry, these gave ferry operators a good boost.
The Metro Ferry Corp., which operates seven vessels that travel from Muelle Osmeña, Lapu-Lapu City to Pier 3, Cebu City, served nearly 3,000 more passengers than usual in one day.
That was last Tuesday, when 8,965 passengers took the ferry to cross Mactan Channel, said Fatima Ocab, ticket comptroller.
The boost was slow at first, when they recorded 6,865 passengers leaving Muelle Osmeña for Pier 3 on the first day of the repairs. That was a school holiday.
Ocab said they used to have 4,000 to 6,000 passengers leaving the pier per day, before one lane of the bridge was closed. Students and workers outnumber other passengers, like tourists and seniors.
When the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reopened both lanes yesterday, the ferry’s passengers also dropped to 3,454.
A ferry ride means a shorter commute for most people, but bad news for jeepney drivers.
Longer wait for less money
For the past two days, jeepney driver Andalajao only earned about P550. He could not pay the P500 daily jeepney rent in full. Andalajao depends on driving the jeepney to support his wife and three children.
Like Andalajao, Alfredo Lozada could hardly earn enough to pay the rent for his jeepney.
He failed to pay his daily rent of P400 since Monday, when repairs on the first Mactan-Mandaue Bridge started.
Lozada, who has been driving a jeepney for 12 years, is raising five children.
For two days, vehicles bound for Mandaue were diverted to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
Lozada said the extra distance and the long wait at the intersection of the second bridge take up more gasoline.
Before the start of the bridge repair, Lozada said he could make seven rounds from Lapu-Lapu to Mandaue every day. Since Monday, he could hardly make four rounds.
Lozada said his daily profit was reduced to P100 for the past two days. Before the repair, he could earn up to P500 every day. “Karon table-tabla na lang (Now, we can hardly earn profit),” he lamented.
Many commuters, he said, have opted to take the ferry in going to Cebu City.
Dodong Davao, 40, another jeepney driver, said he could travel to Mandaue in 30 minutes, but when one lane of the first bridge was closed, it took him two to three hours to reach his destination.
Like Lozada and Andalajao, Davao said he was not able to pay the rent for his jeepney
New repairs schedule
After receiving a barrage of complaints, the DPWH and the Mactan Cebu Bridge Management Board decided to change the schedule of repairs.
Instead of working around the clock, the contractor will work only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The lane undergoing repair will be opened to traffic outside of these hours.
Frank Brazil, head of the Lapu-Lapu City Traffic Management System, said the massive
traffic congestion during the first two days of repair underscored the need for a closer coordination between the DPWH and the traffic departments of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue.
Brazil said traffic managers should be invited to participate during the early stage of planning.
“Kung naa pay muabot nga repair sa bridge, kami na paminawon nila kay kami maoy involved sa kalsada dili sila (In future repairs, [DPWH officials] should listen to us
because road traffic is our concern),” he said in a press conference yesterday.
Brazil said he did not expect the number of vehicles during the first day of repair, which coincided with a school holiday, to be that huge. “We were surprised to see the number of vehicles on the streets,” he said.
Lozada said he was relieved to learn that the schedule of repairs was changed. But he said the lane should be opened as early as 4 a.m., when many jeepney drivers start going out.
Lozada said he understands the bridges need repair, but he urged DPWH officials and bridge managers to keep its effect on commuters and jeepney drivers at a minimum.
Survival and service
Even though he is earning less, to stop driving jeepney while repairs are ongoing is not an option for him, Lozada said. “Padayon lang gihapon ta. Kining ato serbisyo man ni sa katawhan (We just have to carry on. We are driving to serve the public),” he said.
While the drivers try to carry on, the traffic caused by bridge repairs has reminded people of the ferry as an alternative way to travel between the islands.
According to statistics gathered by the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) for the ferry terminal in Pier 3, Metro Ferry has 56 average ship calls a day and 12,187 average passengers a day.
The largest ferry, Princesa, seats 312, while the smallest capacity belongs to River Bus VI, which can accommodate 96.
A Metro Ferry vessel leaves Muelle Osmeña and Pier 3 every 30 minutes. At night, their service is available from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2013.