Although there are jeeps and multi-cabs, tricycles are the most common mode of transportation in and around the city of General Santos. Tricycle drivers are presently awaiting the final recommendations relative to the proposed ordinance dubbed, Comprehensive Land Transport and Traffic Code of the City of General Santos.' The proposed ordinance, introduced by the City Councilor and chair of the City Council's Committee on Transportation DominadorLagare Jr., is an offshoot of the transport study conducted in 2014 by the League of Cities of the Philippines with funding from the World Bank. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera has already approved the provisions of the proposed ordinance that aims to come up with well-managed and regulated traffic and public transportation in GenSan.
Based from the 2014 transport study, there are 42,000 tricycles plying the 26 barangays of GenSan. From a separate study also conducted in 2014, the ideal number of tricycles is only 9,000. The figures reveal an excess of 33,000 tricycles in the city. Concerns on the oversupply of tricycles and the would-be displaced tricycle drivers are covered in the ordinance provisions.
Part of the city's solution is grouping of the tricycles into the red, the green, and the white cluster, each cluster is based on the tricycles' existing routes. Likewise, these clusters serve as cooperatives for drivers and operators who will be receiving assistance from the local government should they be affected by the coming regulation.
Locally designed and developed by engineers of the Department of Science and Technology Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC), the Hybrid Electric Road Train or HERT is an alternative mass transportation system composed of five articulated buses that run on fuel and batteries. Of the five coaches, four are for passengers and can carry a total of 240 passengers per trip. The HERT arrived in GenSan in late October 2017 for testing and, possibly, adoption of the LGU of Gen San.
How do the tricycle drivers feel about the coming of the HERT to GenSan? The DOST-MIRDC had a chance to interview some drivers and generally, they are happy about having the HERT in their city. Mario Burlado, 59 y/o, said that they are in favor of using the HERT para "maminimize ang traffic at maiwasan ang disgrasya. Masaya kami nung nakita namin ang Road Train. Nakita na namin sa TV sa Manila. Nung dumating sa GenSan, meron na kaming train," he gladly added. Mr. Alessandro Are?a, Vice President of the red cluster, expressed his support to the use of the HERT since their group is the first batch to avail of the local government's modernization program. "Makikisama kami sa gobyerno para sa ikauunlad ng kabuhayan," said Mr. Are?a.
DOST-MIRDC Hybrid Electric Road Train project team member Bryle M. Magat interviews tricycle drivers
(from L to R): Mr. Mario Burlado; Mr. Are?a; Mr. Aviola: and Mr. Oman.
Noel Aviola, a 45-year old driver, is also supportive of the possible adoption of the HERT. He is happy to see the HERT in their city. He said, "Hindi nga lang natin alam kung magtagagal ang Road Train pero sana magbago din ang kalagayan ng transportasyon sa GenSan kung maibibigay ang pamamahala ng HERT sa kooperatiba." This is also the same sentiments shared by Mr. Jackaria Oman, 57 years old. He is okay with the adoption of HERT in GenSan. "Nagmeeting na sa Sangguniang Panglungsod, inintroduce na ni Councilor Lagare."
Tricycle drivers typically work for 12 hours and earn from P500-P1000 per day. Not bad, they said, because minimum income is P295. Competition among tricycles is stiff, but they do not run out of passengers to serve. "Maraming pasahero, yung mga trabahante, yung mga mamamalengke," says Mr. Aviola.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the DOST-MIRDC and the LGU of GenSan will be signed on Dec. 16, 2017. There will be a short program to be attended by the GenSan City officials, DOST personnel led by Sec. Fortunato T. de la Peña, and media representatives. The MOA signing will be followed by a Grand Launching of the HERT. Asked if they will attend the program at the People's Park, the tricycle gave positive answers. This is an event that the entire DOST system and the people of GenSan are very optimistic about.