The government’s task force on pandemic response has allowed the operations of motorcycle taxis, as the country gradually re-opens its economy to bounce back from a record contraction of 16.5% in the second quarter of the year which affected millions of jobs.
Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque on Friday announced that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has allowed Angkas and JoyRide to operate in order to augment the limited public transportation in Metro Manila due to the health crisis.
According to Mr. Roque, the decision came after the House of Representatives approved the extension of the motorcycle taxi pilot study.
Following this, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it will comply with the decision of the government to allow the resumption of operations of the bike-hailing firms.
“DOTr will comply with the decision of the Cabinet, Congress, and IATF. In fact, Secretary Tugade earlier expressed his support on the resumption of MC Taxi Operation,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said in a statement.
Ms. Libiran said that the transportation department will implement the IATF decision once it receives the guidelines from the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19.
“There is already an existing guideline in place, but considering that we are in a pandemic, we will have to rely on the expert recommendation of the NTF as to the minimum health standards that shall be put in place to ensure that the program will not be a transmission vector of the virus,” she said. “Its primordial task is to ensure the safety of the riding passengers, which will also be the basis of the continuing recommendation to congress for drafting the appropriate legislation,” Libiran explained.
Ms. Libiran also announced that an inter-agency task force overseeing motorcycle taxis will be reconvened to regulate and monitor their operations.
Metro Manila mayors had earlier asked the DOTr to continue the pilot study of motorcycle taxis. The IATF, for its part, endorsed the request of local chiefs to the lower chamber. The House transportation committee had also expressed its support to legitimize the operations of motorcycle taxis.
During the first half of the year, riding pillion on motorcycles — called “back-riding” locally — was not allowed by the government in a bid to contain the lethal COVID-19 virus.
But the government, after multiple appeals from the public, eventually allowed couples living under the same roof to ride a motorcycle as long as a divider was installed. The policy requiring a barrier, however, was scrapped in August after experts criticized its effectiveness
Government’s policy concerning transportation had been one of the most debated issues at the height of the longest and most stringent lockdown in South East Asia. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza