After series of accidents in Cebu: 300 bus drivers up for drug test
Workers prepare the temporary North Bus Terminal located beside a mall at the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City.
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal, file

After series of accidents in Cebu: 300 bus drivers up for drug test

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - November 2, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Owing to the series of road accidents involving its buses in Cebu, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-7 has ordered a drug test for drivers of Ceres’ northern fleet.

The drivers who will be found using illegal drugs will be dismissed from work, said LTFRB-7 Director Eduardo Montealto, Jr. on Sunday.

“Ang northern-bound bus drivers lang sa nila ang among gi-orderan nga mo-undergo og drug testing ug driver’s examination kay sila man ang naay mga reported nga road accidents,” Montealto said.

(For now, we ordered the drug test and examination for drivers traveling North because the buses that figured in the road accidents are from the northern fleet.)

There are 300 drivers travelling to northern Cebu. Montealto said they must undergo the drug test in the next 30 days.

Aside from the drug test, the drivers will also need to undergo a driver’s examination that will be administered by LTFRB.

Those will fail the exam will not be allowed to drive until they pass it, Montealto said. Those who will pass it will be made to undergo a training on defensive driving by LTFRB, Land Transportation Office, and the Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police.

At least six Ceres buses figured in accidents in October but three were considered major accidents because of the nature of the tragedy – the October 24 accident when the bus collided with an ambulance at the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City, resulting to nine people getting injured; and the accidents on October 30 and 31 in Mandaue City and Consolacion town, respectively, when bikers were run over by the bus.

Operations of these buses have been suspended for 30 days, including those of three buses that are under the same franchise of the bus that figured in the accident in Consolacion.

Ceres has 500 buses travelling to the north and south of Cebu.

Meanwhile, LTO-7 Director Victor Caindec is urging local government units to come up with better road use policies.

“Mark my words. Magsige pa gihapon ang disgrasya og dili ta mo-usab (More accidents will continue if we will not change). This will not be the last bike rider to die. This is not the last bus that will kill people. There will always be another speeding truck that will have an accident or an ambulance accident. And another motorcycle rider will die due to his or another driver's carelessness,” Caindec said in a Facebook post.

Caindec said vehicles and non-motorized transport are not designed to co-exist in the streets in Cebu, at least. For example, buses and trucks are not designed to traverse small roads but they do, today.

He pointed out the establishment of bike lanes:

“LGUs put bike lanes pero walay klaro ang implementation. Naay usa ka LGU, gi-pintalan ang bike lane pero carwash ug repair shop sa motor nabulahan. We can't put up bike lanes without properly protecting those who use these lanes,” Caindec said.

(LGUs put bike lanes but there is no clear implementation. There is one LGU that established a bike lane but reaping the benefits are a car wash and motorcycle repair shop. We can't put up bike lanes without properly protecting those who use these lanes.)

Montealto argued that human error caused the accidents and not the small roads but he said that when things “normalize,” Ceres buses will be made to travel provincial roads and no longer on city roads.

Buses were deployed to compensate for the absence of traditional jeepneys, the main public transport in Cebu, to live up to physical distancing measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.- JMO (FREEMAN)

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