WITH tricycles as the main mode of public transport in Zamboanga City, passengers have to contend with abusive drivers who charge them more than a regular aircon taxi would.

The riding public speaks

Jeizel Regalado, a registered midwife and a native of RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay, said she took a tricycle from Guiwan bus terminal to the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) office where she was charged P120. Guiwan is just a little over five kilometres from the PRC office.

Overcharging of fare is a violation of Zamboanga City Ordinance 185, series of 1996 which governs the operations of motorized tricycles, and is subject to a fine not less than Php1,000. According to the ordinance, the fare shall be P20 for one kilometer plus P5 for succeeding kilometer regardless of the number of passenger. Following this and putting a one-kilometer allowance, the ride from the terminal to PRC should just have been P20+(P5x6km)=P50.

Lory del Maquiling, a student from Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) said she experienced riding with a “discourteous, arrogant driver”. “Bastos na nga yung driver, hindi pa talaga ako hinatid sa saktong lugar na sinabi ko kasi nagmamadali raw siya (He was very arrogant, and the worst was he didn’t even take me to my destination saying he was in a hurry),” Maquiling said.

Wore cases have been reported including drivers threatening passengers over fare arguments. A government employee who requested anonymity said he was stunned by the driver’s attitude. “He literally threatened me, saying ‘sabe yo onde bo ta keda, kuydaw lang bo’ (I know where you live, you watch out),” he recalled.

The tricycle ordinance protects passengers from “insolent” and “ill-mannered drivers” such as those mentioned above. It also penalizes drivers who refuse to convey passengers to their proper destination. The driver, as well as the owner of the trike will be imposed a fine of Php500.

Trike drivers’ woes

On the other hand, trike drivers have also had their share of problems with the passengers. Albert Rodrigo, a tricycle driver for 12 years said there are instances when passengers tend to be very demanding. “Minsan halos magpalibre na lang sa sobrang baba ng binibigay na pasahe (They’d haggle so low, it’s like giving them a free ride).”

Rodrigo is a breadwinner and his daily income of around P200-300 a days could not suffice for the needs of his children. But he does not overcharge as he fears being fined.

Florencio Delasas, 65, believes the same.

Public should report and complain

What should the public do? Linda Mandi, a member of the Tricycle Adjudication Board (TAB), urged the people to air their grievances against the trike drivers at their office. Speaking during her guesting at Dateline Teleradyo, Mandi said that their office only receives complaints from mostly professional passengers. “We have received complaints from doctors, teachers and other professionals but we do not receive complaints from the ordinary residents,” she said.

Adelaida (not real name), 67, who shares similar stories as Regalado and Maquiling said she would rather keep her mouth shut than complain. “Dili nako magreklamo sa opisina kay mao raman gyapon dili raman gyapon tagaan atensyon kay wala koy nahuman sa pag iskwela (I will not complain because the office will not attend to my complaint).”

The TAB holds office at the City Legal Office in the City Hall.

Many residents complain that drivers charge double or even triple the amount stipulated in the fare matrix. Trike drivers on the other hand complain that the amount is “very little”, citing that they could barely cope with the surging gas prices and trike repairs.

Mandi clarified that the fare matrix was consulted with trike operators, drivers and the riding public before the ordinance was approved. “They cannot say that we did not consult them about this, we considered the gas price and the repairs before formulating the matrix, we even conducted feasibility studies,” she said. For the first kilometer, trike drivers already earn Php14.50 approximately, depending on the actual gas prices. As of June, the gas price is Php44.00.

One liter gasoline could last for twelve kilometers says one driver. “Gamit na gamit po ang isang litro ng gasolina kasi umaabot po ng labindalawang kilometro e (One liter of gas reachs 12 kilometers)” athough maintenance and the rental cost adds to the burden.

“It is our responsibility to complain formally because if we just tolerate them, they will keep on abusing,” Mandi said.

In a survey conducted in the city, 7 out of 10 respondents (composed of professionals, students and ordinary citizens) responded that “fair” fare rate should be according to the City Ordinance 185.
Rylle Darryll T. Estrella

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Rylle Darryll is a student of the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City.