Briones: Losing relevance | SunStar

Briones: Losing relevance

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Briones: Losing relevance

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I CAN’T wait for the BRT system and the other proposed alternative mass transport systems to be given the go-ahead so Metro Cebu won’t have to deal with groups like the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston).

Piston and some of its members were at it again yesterday, organizing a transport strike to reiterate their opposition to the government’s plan to phase out jeepneys 15 years old and above.

Trust me, I understand the group’s plight. After all, it’s only looking after the interest of its members. But it doesn’t mean I approve of how it goes about getting its way.

What it has done and plans to continue to do is to hold the public hostage until its demands are met.

Given that scenario, what makes Piston no different from, say, terrorist groups or bandits like the Abu Sayyaf?

So okay, Piston doesn’t kidnap people, hold them for ransom, and behead them if the ransom is not delivered, but it sure operates like one.

When the group organizes a transport strike, what do you think it’s doing? It deliberately wants to paralyze public transport, with hopes of stranding hundreds of thousands of commuters and inconveniencing other motorists.

Not only is it malicious, but it also shows the group’s indifference to the plight of the general populace.

Unfortunately for Piston, its days of relevance are numbered. There will come a time when whatever it does won’t matter at all. And the public, too, will no longer care what will happen to it or its members. And mind you, the time is sooner than it thinks.

Local governments that comprise Metro Cebu are well aware of the need for a mass transport system that can accommodate a growing population.

Jeepneys are not the answer. Maybe they have uses in parts of the city where the roads are narrow, but it’s quite obvious there can’t be hundreds of them clogging major thoroughfares. So it’s inevitable that majority of this outdated mode of public transportation will go the way of the dodo.

The tell-tale signs are already there.

The reactions of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay to yesterday’s strike are proof of that.

Instead of getting into a hissy fit, they deployed buses and barangay trucks to assist anyone who might be affected. No big fuss.

Cebu City didn’t even bother to field additional traffic personnel. Glenn Antigua, head of the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue, said they were able to convince one transport group not to participate in the strike. Apparently, members of the National Transport Workers Union decided to sit this one out after receiving an order from their Manila headquarters.

Maybe it’s high time Piston changes tack.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 23, 2017.

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