Tricycle diaries: passengers, drivers as story tellers

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/08 June) – Tricycles, a major means of transportation in downtown Zamboanga City, are a rich source of stories, as drivers and passengers go about their daily routine.

Jeizel Regalado, a registered midwife and a native of RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay recalls how surprised she was when the driver charged her PhP 120 for a ride from the Guiwan bus terminal to the Profesional Regulations Commission office. “Ang mahal ng singil sa akin, Php120,” (I was charged PhP 120. Too expensive), she complained.
According to the ordinance, the fare shall be 20 pesos for the first kilometer and five pesos for every kilometer thereafter, regardless of the number of passengers.

Regalado should have paid only PhP 35 but was charged more than thrice that amount.

Fare overcharging is a violation of City Ordinance 185 which governs the operations of motorized tricycles. Violators are fined not less than Php1, 000.

The ordinance protects passengers not only from overcharging but from “ill-mannered” drivers.
Lorydel Maquiling, a student from Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) complained about having to deal with a “discourteous, arrogant driver.”

“Bastos na nga yung driver, hindi pa talaga ako hinatid sa saktong lugar na sinabi ko kasi nagmamadali raw siya,” (He was not only arrogant, he also did not bring me to my destination), she said.

Maquiling’s experience, however, pales in comparision to that of a government employee who requested not to be named for security reasons. The employee had an altercation with a driver who “literally threatened me, saying ‘sabe yo onde bo ta keda, kuydaw lang bo’,” (I know where you live, you better watch out).

The ordinance also penalizes drivers who refuse to convey passengers to their destination. The driver, as well as the owner of the trike will be imposed a fine of PhP500.

Drivers’ woes

Tricycle drivers also have their own share of stories about passengers.

Albert Rodrigo, who has been driving for 12 years now, said some passengers can be very demanding. “Minsan halos magpalibre na lang sa sobrang baba ng binibigay na pasahe,” (Sometimes they pay only a pittance, it feels like you’re giving them a free ride), Rodrigo lamented.

Rodrigo, the family’s breadwinner, earns PhP 200 or PhP 300 daily, just enough to buy food. Sometimes, it’s not even enough, he said.

But Rodrigo can’t charge his passengers beyond what is prescribed in the fare matrix. He said he might be fined if he did that.

Florencio Delasa, a 65-year old driver, strictly follows the fare matrix imposed by the Tricycle Adjuciation Board (TAB).

“I see to it that I strictly follow the fare matrix even if I don’t earn much,” he said.

Reporting complaints

Linda Mandi, a member of the Tricycle Adjudication Board (TAB), urged the public to air their complaints. She told Dateline Teleradyo that their office only receives complaints mostly from passengers who are professionals. “We have received complaints from doctors, teachers and other professionals but we do not receive complaints from the ordinary residents,” she said.

A 67-year-old passenger said she would rather keep her mouth shut than complain. “Dili nako magreklamo sa opisina kay mao raman gyapon, dili ra man gyapon tagaan atensyon kay wala koy nahuman sa pag iskwela.” (I won’t complain because the office will not attend to me anyway because I didn’t finish school).

The TAB holds office at the City Legal Office in the City Hall.

Many residents complain that drivers charge double or even triple the amount stipulated in the fare matrix. Trike drivers on the other hand complain that the fare is very low and that they could could barely cope with the surging gas prices and trike repairs.

Mandi clarified that the fare matrix was consulted with trike operators, drivers and the riding public before the ordinance was approved. “They cannot say that we did not consult them about this, we considered the gas price and the repairs before formulating the matrix, we even conducted feasibility studies,” she said. For the first kilometer, trike drivers already earn Php14.50 approximately, depending on the actual gas prices. As of June 5. the gas price was Php 44 per liter.

One liter covers at least 12 kilometers, drivers say. But the cost of maintenance as well as rental of the unit is expensive.

Mandi said senior citizens and students should be given a 20% discount.

She said they plan to up huge tarpaulins in the airport, seaport and bus terminals to inform the public how much they should pay.

“It is our responsibility to complain formally because if we just tolerate them, they will keep on abusing,” Mandi concluded.

In a survey conducted in the city, 7 out of 10 respondents (composed of professionals, students and ordinary citizens) responded that “fair” fare rate should be according to the City Ordinance 185. (Rylle Darryll T. Estrella/for MindaNews)

(Rylle Darryll Estrella, is a seniorAB Mass Communications student, major in Journalism, at he Western Mindanao State University. Estrella is an intern under the Peace Journalism Training and Internship Program of the Zamboanga City Government organized with the support of USAID-ENGAGE)