Editorial: A warning bell-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A PASSENGER bus suffers mechanical problem at the downward slope of the circumferential road of the Island Garden City of Samal slams the side of the road and flips over, killing five and injuring 22.
Those are stories that we often attribute only to misfortune, with the driver getting the brunt of the blame: Reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and physical injuries.
But there's something else in Samal that needs to be looked into. Remember, there is only one bus line serving the Samal route. Politicians may rave over such huge investment, but when we trace where the bus service comes from you find the only barge service as well.
Should politicians continue to praise high heavens for such investment in public conveyance?
Let's think again.
The present rate today of small vehicles is P270 one way. That's P540 two-way for an ordinary multicab owner who goes to and from Samal every day. Is that one-kilometer distance really worth P540 every day?
The Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu is around 1.2-kilometers long and has served millions of people traversing between Cebu and Mactan Islands. No cost to them, just the regular taxes and gasoline.
The South Luzon Expressway charges P86 for small vehicles, P172 for medium vehicles and P258 for trucks and buses for people to go from Metro Manila to the Calabarzon region, a total of 60 kilometers long.
Do a little computation and you will realize the poor people of Samal is being squeezed and by a private entity at that.
Government should remember that public conveyance is a privilege.
In this case, they granted the privilege to a private entity that is enjoying the huge influx of traffic between Samal and the mainland. The least that government should demand is sleek, well-maintained buses to bring their people safely to their destinations.
Why on the bus service, you may ask? It's because these buses come as extensions of the barge service monopoly. The rates to cross that one kilometer channel that has been allowed to be charged virtually blocks off any other entrepreneurial bus operator.
If government cannot demand this, then it should be doing their math and re-think what public service really means.
The people of Samal and their visitors have been silent for too long now.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 01, 2012.