Motorcycle taxis return
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday said the IATF has approved the resumption of the motorcycle taxi pilot study, which would be implemented and monitored by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Micahel Varcas
Motorcycle taxis return
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allowed the resumption of operations of motorcycle taxis after the House of Representatives approved the extension of a pilot study program.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. yesterday said the IATF has approved the resumption of the motorcycle taxi pilot study, which would be implemented and monitored by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The House earlier urged the IATF, NTF and DOTr to extend the conduct of the motorcycle taxi pilot study program.

Roque said this would allow Singaporean-owned Angkas and Joyride to resume operations.

Roque said the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board will be issuing the guidelines as soon as possible.

Prior to the lockdown last March, the study was launched to determine whether motorcycle taxis were OK for public transport since these are banned under Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

Sen. Grace Poe said yesterday the resumption of motorcycle taxi operations would augment public transport and ease the daily hardship of commuters, especially workers trying to make a living amid the pandemic.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, however stressed the guidelines must be clear-cut and strictly adhere to health and safety protocols to ensure that riders are protected during the entire trip.

“Regular disinfection, wearing of face mask and using own helmet are among the measures that should be complied with by the riders,” the senator said.

“Safety remains the primordial concern as motorcycle taxis return to the streets,” she said.

The DOTr is set to convene its technical working group after the IATF gave the green light to motorcycle taxis to resume operations next week.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said the department is ready to comply with the decision of the Cabinet, Congress and IATF to allow the resumption of motorcycle taxi operations.

“We will be ready to implement the IATF decision anytime we receive the minimum health standards/guidelines from the NTF,” she told reporters.

Libiran noted that there are already existing guidelines in place but they still need guidance from the NTF for minimum health protocols to ensure that transmission of the coronavirus would be avoided.

The technical working group monitors and regulates the operations of the players in the pilot program to ensure the safety of the riding public.

The pilot program would also be the basis for a recommendation to Congress that will be used for the drafting of appropriate legislation over the sector.

Both Angkas and Joyride, the two main players in motorcycle taxi operations, welcomed the government’s decision.

Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca said it is ready to close the gap in the transport sector as more businesses reopen.

He noted that only about 40 percent of public transport has been reopened since the full transport shutdown in March.

Meanwhile, Joyride said they are ready to comply with all health and safety protocols to provide safe transport options amid the pandemic.-  Paolo Romero, Romina Cabrera

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