By: Lottie Salarda for InterAksyon.com (03-11-2014)
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Efforts to restore normalcy to Tacloban City after the destruction of super typhoon Yolanda have been severely slowed down by the lack of public transport, which was badly decimated by the storm.
Isabelo Jobs Lagutan, information officer of the citys Traffic Operation Management Enforcement and Control Office, said almost 95 percent of the transportation sector had been affected by the typhoon.
said the fleet of muticab commuter vehicles plying the San Jose-downtown route, among the areas most devastated by Yolandas storm surge and where public transport depots and garages are located, had almost been wiped out.
On a major route that used to be served by 300 jeepneys before Yolanda, Lagutan said there are currently only 40 units left to ferry thousands of commuters.
Despite a moratorium on penalties for public transport operators who fail to renew their franchises on time, he said only three percent of the citys operators have so far renewed their licenses and the owners of only 50 multi-cab units have processed their renewal forms.
It is not that they no longer want to, it is because most are unable to.
Jeepney operator Merly Bayono, who lives in Costa Brava in San Jose used to have four units. Two of these were swept away by the storm surge. One is still being repaired, leaving him with one operational unit.
Napakalaking epekto ng bagyo sa transporation sector dito sa Tacloban. Lahat apektado, lalo na ang ekonomiya ng siyudad. Nahihirapan ang mga tao na i-transport yung mga goods nila (The effect on the transportation sector in Tacloban has been tremendous. Everything is affected, especially the citys economy. People are having a hard time transporting their goods), Lagutan pointed out.
The lack of transport has also made it doubly difficult for residents to restore the daily routines Yolanda disrupted.
Take the citys students, for example.
Tacloban has three universities — the University of the Philippines Visayas-Tacloban College, Leyte Normal University and the Eastern Visayas State University — aside from the numerous private and public elementary and high schools.
The lack of transport has led most schools to dismiss their students as early as 4 p.m. to give them a chance to find rides home before dark.
Dati nakakasakay pa kami kahit 7 na ng gabi, pero ngayon hindi na. Yung iba naming teachers pinapauwi na kami kahit 3 oclock palang ng hapon, basta before 5 dapat nakauwi na kami (We used to be able to find rides even at 7 p.m., but no longer. Some teachers let us go home as early as 3 oclock, they make sure we can reach home before 5), Joyce Delos Santos, 15, a third year student of Leyte National High School, said. Napakahirap pang makasakay sa mga oras na yun kasi konti na lang ang bumibiyahe ngayong pampublikong sasakyan (It is still hard to find rides even at those times because there are very few public utility vehicles traveling).
Editor’s Note: This is a re-post of the article by Lottie Salarda titled “With public transport decimated, Tacloban’s normalization kept to a crawl” from Interaksyon.com, The news portal of TV5.