DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 March) – The city government deployed 15 buses to provide free rides to stranded passengers starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, as only a few public utility vehicles plied their routes due to the low pressure area affecting parts of Mindanao.
City Traffic and Transportation Management Office chief Dionisio Abude said in an interview that the free bus rides serviced the routes to Toril, Calinan, Bunawan, and Buhangin.
He said at least three buses would be deployed per route while the remaining three buses would serve as “sweepers” to transport stranded passengers whose houses are located outside the four identified routes.
He said the city government had coordinated its plan to offer bus rides to passengers with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, which promptly communicated with the local bus companies.
The bus companies, which committed to service the routes, are Bachelor Express, Yellow Bus Line Inc., LCI Bus Line, ACF Bus Lines, Holy Infant Tours, and Davao Metro Shuttle, according to Abude.
He said there are also two standby buses from the Mindanao Star Bus Transport.
The City Government of Davao canceled classes in all levels in public and private schools and later announced the cancelation of work at City Hall on Tuesday.
Abude said the buses would continue to ply the routes for as long as there are still stranded passengers on the streets.
If the buses would be needed on Wednesday, he said the city government will continue to offer passengers with free bus rides.
“We will depend on the weather. If this weather continues until tomorrow (Wednesday), we will, of course, continue to offer free bus rides. We want to prevent our passengers from getting stranded,” he said.
The buses were stationed at the City Hall but the vehicles may pick up passengers along the way, he said.
He said free “lugaw” (porridge) was also offered to stranded passengers at the City Hall to keep them warm while waiting for the buses.
Abude said police would be deployed to ensure the safety of the passengers.
According to the weather advisory issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) at 11 a.m. Tuesday, tropical depression “Chedeng” had already weakened into a low press area.
At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the LPA was spotted in the vicinity of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
The weather disturbance will continue to bring scattered moderate to heavy rains over Zamboanga Peninsula, Bangsamoro, North Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Davao City and light to moderate rains may be experienced over the rest of Mindanao and portions of Central Visayas and Leyte Provinces.
PAGASA advised the disaster risk reduction and management offices concerned and residents in these areas, especially those identified to be at high risk of flooding or landslides, to take appropriate actions and continue monitoring for its updates. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)