Bukidnon SP to RTMI: cut drivers’ work hours, other measures

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/03 November)— After its public hearings on vehicular accidents involving buses, the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan required measures and practices to the Rural Transit of Mindanao Inc. and other bus companies plying the province.

In a resolution passed on October 26, 2011, the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan urged the bus companies to take measures to reduce vehicular accidents in the province after the series of hearings conducted by the provincial board attended by representatives and officers of the RTMI, Land
Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Land Transportation Office.

On top of the eight suggestions in SP Resolution No. 2011-073 is for the bus companies to limit the driving time of any bus driver to a maximum of four continuous hours.

Authored by first district board members Clive Quiño and Jay Albarece, the resolution said the suggestion emanates from the  “fatigue kills” campaign of the International Transport Federation and the International Labor Organization Hours of Work and Rest Periods (Road Transport) Convention, 1979 (no. 153).

Albarece told Bukidnon News Wednesday that Pio Banaag, RTMI liaison officer, who represented RTMI in one of the hearings, said their driving time depends on the distance of the trip. From Cagayan de Oro, destinations range from close to four hours (Valencia City) to eight hours (Davao City).

The provincial board also urged RTMI and other bus firms to impose sanctions on bus drivers reaching their destinations earlier than the prescribed travel time to discourage over-speeding.

The bus company was also urged to establish an in-house driving safety and proficiency school similar to the one maintained by companies like Del Monte Philippines, Inc.

Qualifications and quality control of its drivers emerged as one of the dominant issues raised against RTMI during the hearings, which was triggered by an accident on September 6 involving an RTMI bus killing one and injuring two employees of the local government of Manolo Fortich, who were only responding to another road accident.

The provincial board also urged RTMI to strictly implement mandatory regular and random drug and alcohol testing for drivers.

RTMI officials told the Sangguniang Panlalawigan they could not enforce drug testing. But provincial board members told them being in the public transport business involving public safety, they should include an anti-drugs policy among company rules.

RTMI was also asked to provide large and readable hotline numbers for passenger complaints and suggestions at the rear of every bus to “improve the driver-performance feedback mechanism.”

They were also asked to provide name patches for drivers and conductors and to reserve seats for persons with disabilities, breastfeeding mothers, senior citizens and other passengers with special needs. The resolution also included suggestion to have fare discounts privileges to senior citizens and students, which sometimes is not observed.
As of September2011, RTMI buses figured in 32 vehicular accidents leaving a total of nine persons killed and 13 others injured in what provincial board Quiño said as “becoming very alarming.”

Quiño cited the report from Bukidnon provincial police director Rustom C. Duran, in his response to the query of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last month.

The provincial board, through Quiño, inquired about the volume of accidents following his privilege speech in the regular session in indignation of the Manolo Fortich accident and many other incidents he cited.

In Duran’s report, most of the accidents happened in Bukidnon’s two cities, Malaybalay and Valencia with 17 of the 32 accidents. Valencia owns nine and Malaybalay eight cases.

Five of the cases occurred in Manolo Fortich, including that involving the local government unit’s rescue team. Three of the cases reported in Sumilao, and one each in Kalilangan and Impasug-ong.

Over nine months, these cases claimed a total of 22 victims, nine killed nine 13 injured.

Quiño told MindaNews earlier what is extra shocking about the cases is that more than half of the cases happened in the cities’ poblacion areas where the speed limit of 40 kilometers per hour is supposed to be observed.

In both Malaybalay and Valencia cities, police identified the traffic accident prone areas for RTMI buses to be “within poblacion areas.”

In Manolo Fortich, where five RTMI bus accidents were reported, the accident prone areas include Mangima, Zigzag, Culaman, Diclum near DPWH and Purok 6 in Brgy. San Miguel.

In Quezon town where four accidents involving RTMI busses were reported, the accident prone areas were identified as Brgy. Palacapao, Kipolot and Sitio Buayan of Brgy. San Jose.

The other accident prone areas for RTMI buses include Brgy. San Vicente and Kisolon in Sumilao town; Brgy. Central Poblacion in Kalilangan town, and Tourism junction area and Brgy. Impalutao in Impasug-ong town.

Duran also reported that 24 of the 32 accidents have been “settled” between RTMI and the victims.

With six pending settlement, only two of the 32 accidents actually have cases filed in court.

In most of these accidents, the drivers are subjected to disciplinary action and in habitual cases, dismissed, according to Pio Banaag, RTMI liaison officer, who spoke at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 5.

Board member Albarece said the LTFRB in the province have been passive also on these accidents.

Most of the cases, he said, have dwelt only on civil and criminal action.

“The complaints have not yet reached the point when the bus firm’s franchise is put to question (because of the violations shown in the road accidents),” he added. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)

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