The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has apparently rejected with finality or turned back the repeated efforts of the city government to seek an exemption from the implementation of a national policy banning tricycles and other slow-moving vehicles from the national highway.

This week, the City Council said they will start identifying alternate routes to be assigned for tricycles once they are eased out from the main highway, after the local DILG office formally reiterated to them the department’s policy to strictly implement the ban.

The national policy measure is embodied in RA 4136 also known as the Land Transportation Code. The specific DILG Advisory providing for its implementation states that tricycles are prohibited to operate along the national highways or roads that allow a maximum speed of more than 40KPH unless special lanes are provided for them.

RA 4136 was intended primarily as a safety measure to prevent vehicular accidents. As such, the law was tailored without necessarily taking into account the particularities of the transport situation in places like Puerto Princesa City that are completely reliant on tricycles as its main mode of public transport.

The deliberations on the crafting of the law indicate that it had been influenced mainly by the need to find solutions to Metro Manila’s particular situation, which is of course way different from the rest of the country.

Be that as it may, the DILG’s determination to exercise a strong political will in implementing RA 4136 has left many local officials scrambling to find solutions on what to do with their tricycles. The DILG appears to be determined to force compliance to this law, in the same manner, it strong-armed all LGU’s around the country to follow Metro Manila’s campaign to clear its sidewalk from illegal structures.

In the case of Puerto Princesa City, we did even try passing an ordinance designating a specific lane for tricycles and motorbikes along the national highway, in an apparent attempt to secure an exemption. It’s implementation, however, has been spotty at best.

There are close to 7,000 tricycle franchises in the city, a volume that practically makes the ubiquitous vehicle its only mass transport system. Coming close are the “multicabs” that operate strictly on the main roads such as Rizal Avenue and the National Highway.

Getting rid of the tricycles along the main roads is a testy problem, both from an urban planning perspective and from a political standpoint.

On one hand, there is no alternative immediately available for the commuting public if the tricycles are limited only to the secondary roads. The city’s road network system does not offer an easy alternative route that skirts the main roads which tricycles can utilize.

Perhaps more significantly for policymakers who are elected officials, the city’s transport sector is perceived to be politically powerful such that they can make or break political careers because of their block voting capacity during elections.

Puerto Princesa City is in a bind and appears to have no other choice but to swallow a bitter pill of dealing with the tricycle issue in its present unprepared state. The inconvenience to the local public brought about by the DILG’S nationwide roadside clearing policy promises to pale in comparison to the repercussions of the tricycle ban on the everyday lives of city commuters.


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