The rule is clear – no tricycles shall be allowed to operate on national highways. It was spelled out in a DILG memorandum issued in 2007 by then DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo. Insofar as that order issued is concerned, tricycles are not allowed on national highways and major roads where the normal speed of vehicles exceeds 40 kilometers per hour.
The DILG has clarified however that the ban is not absolute and that tricycles may be allowed on major roads only if there are no alternative routes available to them.
The situation of Puerto Princesa City is perhaps starkly different from many other cities whose road and traffic conditions gave rise to that memorandum. The premise of the policy is the need to avoid accidents on the fast lane. Tricycles, with their limited passenger capacity, also tend to clog the roads and are inefficient as a mass transport system.
Puerto Princesa City’s 7,000 plus tricycles, excluding the so-called “colorums” or those which operate without a city government franchise, is its mass transport system. It is a face-palm situation, no thanks to the previous administrations which allowed this traffic monster to grow. The other fact is that the city’s road ecosystem is anchored on its national highway and a couple of major roads.
The recent admission by the City government that they are unable to abide by a standing national ban on tricycles from the major roads because of the lack of an alternative did not sit well at least with many readers of Palawan News which run a story on it this week.
The comments and observations raised by netizens in reaction to the City government’s admission is commonsensical – why raise “no alternative” as an excuse when there is, and it is simply a matter of political will? Some argued that PUVs are the least disagreeable alternative because they are more space efficient than tricycles.
The City may have a case in the fact that the poblacion’s road network is basically anchored on its national highway, a case perhaps of poor urban planning of eons ago. Tricycles, for all intents and purposes, are a creation of bad urban planning.
There is a point to be made here on the assertion raised by ordinary citizens that all it takes is political will to address Puerto Princesa’s growing traffic woes. Least we wanted to hear is a statement that government cannot address the problem at this time.
Tricycles have no place in national roads and open highways. Only when our policy makers can embrace and accept that can we start figuring out practical and workable solutions.