TRICYCLE BAN ON NAT’L HIGHWAYS; Rationalization, not prohibition, a better solution: transport lawyer

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    RATIONALIZING routes, managing how tricycles are used by creating an overall plan to lead local government units are needed for these to continue to safely operate on national highways. This according to Atty. Ariel Inton, founder of Lawyers for Commuters’ Safety and Protection (LCSP).

    “The impression is that this DILG ruling is anti-poor and pro-car owner. This comes from the fact that the common complaints behind it, such as driving slow on the fast lane, not yielding to vehicles, improper lane switching, lane cutting are things that affect drivers,” Inton said. The DILG, however, maintains that the ban is consistent with its goals of improving public safety on the roads.

    Inton said that while there is basis for the DILG to implement the provisions in Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code in its entirety, he also stressed the implementation needs to be considered well and not “in totality” because the law and its implementing rules and regulations were issued in 1964 and has never been modified.

    “During that time tricycles were very limited in their operation, usually inside subdivisions only,” Inton explained. The current memorandum issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government, calls for “prohibiting tricycles, pedicabs, and motorized pedicabs from operating on national highways.”

    A national highway is any road that is built by and is under the control of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

    The ban is the part of the DILG’s road clearing operations to create safer highways and smoother transportation. This is not the first time that local chief executives were ordered to strictly implement the ban of tricycles on national highways.

    Apparently in the past, the moves to ban tricycles were always overcome by political issues or public clamor.

    This time the DILG is putting its foot down.

    Part of its implementation is to create the Tricycle Route Plan from a task force composed of the mayor as chairman, the chief of police as vice-chairman, and the Sanggunian’s committee chair on transportation or public safety, the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay, the head of the tricycle regulatory board, the head of the Department of Public Order and Safety, the planning and development officer, the head of the traffic management office, and the local government operations officer as members.

    “Making a route plan should not completely take out national highways. Rationalizing should be focused on a “commuter-first” strategy, taking into consideration unique conditions, and use data driven evidences to form the route plans,” Inton emphasized.

    He mentioned that there are some places in the country where the only access roads are national roads, and the ban from crossing highways is not practical at all. He also pointed to the fact that a majority of government services such as hospitals, public schools, government offices are found along national highways.

    “It must also be considered that a number of tricycles are not “for hire” vehicles but rather “service” or privately-owned vehicles. There are some places in the Philippines where there is no other available public transportation but tricycles. Also, there are many places that only accessible by a national road, and even national roads that are only served by tricycles,” Inton stressed.

    The DILG’s requirement for a route plan includes a schematic map of the location of tricycle terminals, the national highways of the LGU. The memorandum mentioned that in the route plan, LGUs can also include portions of the national highway to be used by tricycles if there is no alternative way.

    “This is the gray area here. The prohibition is also unclear on how to appropriate space or a lane because in many road-widened highways, there are other obstacles like electric posts and parked vehicles. These may pose a bigger threat in the long run. There is no proper road engineering and the obstacles might even be more hazardous if not properly implemented,” Inton stressed as he said that the actual ban will be implemented on May 1, but there are apprehensions and “prototyping” of actions in some areas around the country.

    According to the DILG, the TRP or tricycle route plan must also detail the installation of appropriate signages, marks for lanes and other safety features to guide all vehicles; create awareness among residents and motorists of new tricycle routes or portions of highways allowed to tricycles because of lack of alternative route; a color scheme or emblem for tricycles that ply a route traversing a national highway; and penalties for violators.