95% of public transport paralyzed in Butuan

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/01 April) – Public vehicles here ground to a halt Thursday as various local transport groups joined the one-day long nationwide strike demanding for a rollback of oil prices and the scrapping of the oil industry deregulation law.

Jun Montilla, spokesperson of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON)-Butuan, said that their “tigil-pasada” succeeded in crippling 95 percent of public transport in 26 urban barangays.

“It was generally peaceful,” said Supt. Joseph Boquiren, city police chief of the strike.

He agreed with Montilla’s assessment that 95 percent of public transport was paralyzed.

The city’s eastbound public jeepneys or those servicing the route to Barangay Ampayon did not ply their routes, according to Angelo Tello, president of the Butuan Eastbound Multicab Operators and Drivers Association (Bemoda).

Tello had earlier said they would join the nationwide transportation strike led by Piston to protest the increases in fuel prices and to call for the repeal of the oil deregulation act.

The Butuan Transport Federation Inc. (Butrafi) chaired by Willy Cubillas also joined the strike.

Cubillas said tricycles, the city’s main mode of transport, also kept off the streets.

Montilla, however, admitted that big bus companies like Bachelor Express continued plying the routes between Butuan City and other provinces in Caraga Region.

“We just sent an invitation letter to their Butuan office to join with us but they had not responded,” he said.

Other groups who joined the “tigil pasada” were the Butuan Airport Public Transport Association led by Pedro Concha Jr., and Butuan Motorized Tricycle Association headed by Roy Butawan.

The transport groups started their activity at 4 a.m. and assembled in major “choke points” in Barangay Libertad, west side barangays, junction of Montilla Blvd and J.C. Aquino Avenue, and Ampayon.

Hundreds of commuters including government workers and private employees were stranded.

The city government fielded dump trucks to send stranded commuters to their destinations.

City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. said the strike did not paralyze government transactions.

“I am happy that no untoward incident happened, they (transport groups) have already expressed their sentiments and dramatized their demands”, he said. (Alden Pantaleon/MindaNews)