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Rough Cuts | The longest ever review process

It’s nice to hear that the riding public in certain routes in Davao City are now served with modern passenger buses that its operators have claimed to be environment friendly.

Yes, early this week the Davao Metro Shuttle launched its so-called Euro 4 compliant buses the facilities of which provide for convenience, assurance of safety, and wi-fi connections that make communications gadget holders free from boredom while waiting for the departure and while on board during the long travel due to traffic.

In addition the buses also have the so-called cashless fare collection service. All the passengers have to do is buy cards from outlets and swipe these on a portable gadget that also gives a corresponding receipt.
Of course, this new and luxurious style in travel is not without additional cost on the passengers. There is a corresponding increase in fare to pay for the new convenience and add-on services.

Nevertheless, while the fielding of more of these modern utility buses in pre-identified routes in the city under the Rapid Bus System Project is not yet complete, two options still remain for passengers. And these are to take the public utility jeeps that offer lower fare but lack the convenience and relative safety in travel; or ride in the modern buses at a higher travel cost still with the risk of getting late arrivals at destinations because of the limited number of units available.

Meanwhile, we are hoping that the plan to replace the public transport system in the city — now dominated by the smaller jeeps — with big passenger capacity modern buses, will not result to massive loss of livelihood to drivers and operators.

We understand though, that under the Rapid Bus Transport System project, the city government has also prepared mitigating measures to cushion whatever negative impact that may come out as a consequence of the project implementation. But of course we have yet to hear of any new government programs that did not have birth pains.

And we believe that this is the aspect that the city has to be prepared to the maximum. In such preparation it has to include its capability to make the necessary adjustments in the project’s implementation plan.
Isn’t it awful to look at one sector of the city’s population enjoying new conveniences while on the other frame view clearly the neglected plight of another component that is suddenly devastated because of the loss of their livelihood?

Along this line we are thinking whether the local government of Davao City has considered recommending to the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) the granting of franchises for modern buses to applicants from the ranks of operators of public utility jeeps now plying the routes targeted for the Rapid Bus Transport System.

And considering the cost of the units we wonder if the city is exerting efforts to organize the small franchise holders into cooperatives, give them loans or help them borrow from government financial institutions.
It is our take that if these strategies are not in the project implementation plan small passenger jeep franchise holders will not have a Chinaman’s chance of competing against the corporate transport giant newcomers.

The former will just be devoured by the latter and they’ll be reduced to groups of new business opportunities explorers, or worst another batch of job seekers in the city.
Whatever happened to the plan of the city government to build the long-desired waste water treatment plant?
This project came to some kind of a hot topic last year when the Davao City Water District (DCWD) announced that it was ready to construct the plant but it could not proceed because the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that is to govern the project implementation was not yet approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

While we have not seen the details of the MOA, it is our hunch that under the plan it is the city’s water distribution firm that will build the waste water treatment plant as well as operate the same. Those that will be connected to the sewerage system will be billed by the DCWD which in turn remits what is due the city government under the agreement.

The latest status report on the project as disclosed by the DCWD through its spokespersons, the MOA is still undergoing thorough review by the Sanggunian.
What’s keeping our honorable members of the local legislative body too long to complete their review of the MOA we have no idea for now.

Or will a report of more polio viruses find in Davao City’s major waterways – the main outlets of untreated waste water — jolt them into action? We hope it will not come to that point before they are awakened from their apparent stupor.

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