Monday, January 3, 2011

Bus companies suspended over fatal accidents

MANILA, Philippines – Public utility bus companies that own vehicles involved in deadly accidents have been suspended, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said Monday.
The LTFRB suspended the operation of Gasat Express after one of its units was involved in a vehicular accident in Batangas that killed 7 people on Sunday.
LTFRB spokesperson Sonia del Mundo said the suspension is effective 30 days upon receipt of the order by the bus company. 
The bus company’s 17 units will not be allowed to operate during the period.
"Ang presumption is that they are in the same condition, kung isa magkaroon ng problema, it's due diligence na tingan din ang condition of the rest," Del Mundo explained.
The Batangas accident was the 9th major bus accident since 2010 and the first in 2011. 
The LTFRB Regional Office in Benguet has also recommended an unspecified penalty on the company operating the ESO Nice bus that plunged into a ravine last August 18.
The accident killed 42 people and injured 7. 
Other bus companies are still serving suspensions over similar accidents.
These include a JAM Liner bus accident that killed 5 people and injured 5 at the STAR tollway in Quezon province last August 23, and the Twin Hearts bus that fell into the ravine also in Quezon last December 29 wherein 3 people died. 
CUL Transport, which owns a bus that fell into a creek last August 29, killing 5 people and injuring 52, has already complied with a safety inspection and drug testing requirements, the LTFRB said. 
The bus company’s suspension has already been lifted. 
A court hearing, meanwhile, is ongoing for CORIMBA Express, which owns a bus that figured in an accident in Commonwealth Avenue that killed Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Reynaldo Laigo and his wife. 
The LTFRB, on the other hand, does not have any status report yet on the Guevarra Bus line unit that collided with a private vehicle in Camarines Sur, killing beauty queen Melody Gersbach, and the Corominas Bus unit that crashed into a house last July in Toledo, Cebu, killing 21 Iranian students.
New training, accreditation for bus drivers proposed
With the spate of road accidents involving buses, drivers should undergo thorough training and proper accreditation to professionalize the sector, a government official said Monday.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva said they have been meeting with Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) officials on requiring public utility vehicle drivers to undergo accreditation under the National Competency Programs 2 and 3. 
The program is required for overseas Filipino workers who want to work as drivers abroad.
"Ang nakikinabang sa training na ito ay ibang bansa, sa mga nag-aabroad nirerequire ito ng mga employer na TESDA accredited sila," Villanueva said.
He added that it is high time that the same professional certification be given to drivers of public buses and trailer trucks in the country.
He cited a DOTC study showing that 85% of road accidents are caused by drivers themselves. 
"Pag naa-assess sila, hindi dapat katakutan ng mga matitinong driver ito, dahil pag alam mo ang road safety, makakapasa ka," he said. 
Villanueva assured that TESDA has the international modules and professionals to train and certify around 4,000 drivers in Metro Manila and at least 50,000 across the country if the proposal is approved. 
He said the proposed program is apart from the driver’s license issued by the Land Transportation Office. 
The difference between the 2 lies not only in the technical capability in driving but also professionalism in following rules and regulation and the common courtesy required among drivers worldwide. a

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