By Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 14 (PNA) — The city government has intensified its all-out campaign against abusive tricycle and taxi operators and drivers overcharging their passengers as well as car owners illegally parking their vehicles along major roads.
“We are now on a no-nonsense enforcement of local ordinances involving tricycle and taxi fares to eradicate overcharging. We also appeal to the riding public to exercise their rights by not paying the excessive charge by drivers and file formal complaints with local authorities when victimized,” City Councilor Raul Rosal on Wednesday told the Philippines News Agency.
So far, Rosal said dozens of tricycle drivers caught overcharging their passengers have already been apprehended. As a result, their tricycles were impounded and fined for violating the city ordinance which determines the regular fare rates of Php8 for the first kilometer of travel and additional Php1 for every succeeding kilometer.
In the case of tricycles servicing the Legazpi City Airport, a “stub scheme” is now being applied wherein the cost of stub or trip coupon is secured and paid at the City Tourism Office (CTO) booth for use as fare payment to drivers.
The city councilor said each coupon which costs Php30 is good for a three-kilometer or less travel regardless of the number of passengers while another coupon worth Php50 would be good for a trip of more than three kilometers.
Taxi drivers and operators have also been warned for not implementing “meter rate” and overcharging their passengers following the apprehension of two drivers over the week.
Rosal, who heads the city legislative council’s committee on public utilities, is tasked by City Mayor Noel Rosal to oversee its implementation assigned to the city’s Public Safety Office (PSO), local police and other deputized enforcers.
Meanwhile, the local government has been strictly enforcing its anti-illegal parking policy through an ordinance that prohibits motor vehicles from parking between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at no parking zones along the city’s main thoroughfares as a way to ensure smooth traffic.
City Ordinance No. 0011-2011 also provides for the use of wheel clamp to immobilize illegally parked vehicles.
PSO chief Menjo Ofracio said his office already has a clamping and towing unit composed of councilor Rosal as chairman, with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), PSO, Bicol Communications and Environmental Rescue Group, City Engineering Office, Legazpi City Consultative Council and non-government organizations’ representatives as members.
As a result, the riding public, especially tourists and visitors commended such actions.
“That’s great. We in Legazpi must pursue this campaign vigorously and without let-up to make the city really presentable to the thousands of tourists and visitors coming in on regular basis. We, who are regular commuters, are very much grateful to the city government for this,” Nandy Atos, a local netizen, said.
Joeven Ante, a young professional, said “that’s one true sign of a highly urbanizing city. Kudos to the present elected and appointed officials of the City Government of Legazpi!”
Even most tricycle and taxi drivers appreciate the strict enforcement of the said policies.
“There were only a few among the over-2,000 tricycle drivers servicing the city doing the abusive act of overcharging and it is good that they are now being checked by local authorities,” Ramon Agripa, a tricycle driver, said.
According to Mayor Rosal, his administration is duty-bound to do the purge as a way to maintain order as well as the good image of the city.
“We own the title as the second Most Livable City in the country; the center of tourism of Bicol; the regional government administrative center; the center of education; a convention capital; and have been pursuing moves to be elevated as a highly urbanized city, that is why there is indeed a need to discipline our public transport sector,” he said.
Councilor Rosal said “we have to do these or else we will be the one to suffer the intense traffic congestion five year from now. Business establishment should now provide parking areas for their clients while residents who own cars should also have their own parking space as provided under the National Building Code. We have to anticipate this problem, so the public must bear with us as these are all of us.” (PNA)