BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance requiring all public utility jeepney (PUJ) operators in the city to install an additional step board on their respective units to ease entry and ensure safety and convenience of passengers, especially for persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women, senior citizens and children.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Lilia A. Fariñas states that jeepney operators and owners shall install and pay for the cost of the additional step board.
Since jeepneys differ in brand and model, the local legislative measure stated that a standard width of not less than one foot or as may be necessary, and a standard height of one foot more or less, or as may be necessary, measured from the ground up will determine the uniformity of installation for the additional step as prescribed.
However, for engineering reasons the installation of the additional step board cannot be adhered to, the ordinance stipulated the jeepney owners or operators shall be required adapt appropriate measures in observance of the spirit of the measure and for as long as the additional step shall bear the minimum measurement standards as may be necessary and to ensure the safety of all passengers.
Fariñas claimed the additional step shall be made of steel; the angle bars and step board should be capable of bearing the weight of any passenger and could withstand the rigors of welding, among other purposes.
She stated the PUJ owner and operator shall perform and observe all the means necessary to ensure the safety of every passenger with regard to the additional step, and should any untoward incident happen due to poor installation or substandard materials used, the operator or owner shall be responsible for any incidental cost a victim may incur as damage to life or limb.
The ordinance imposes the amount of P1,000 on jeepney operators and owners who do not observe the pertinent provisions of the measure upon its effectivity and an additional fine of P500 for every similar offense.
The Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) Traffic Management Bureau and all other traffic marshals authorized by concerned government agencies will be directed to enforce the pertinent provisions of the ordinance and apprehend non-complying jeepney operators whose PUJs have not installed the appropriate additional step board.
According to her, it had been observed that people have difficulty in boarding and alighting from a jeepney because of the high elevation of the steps of numerous PUJs but luckily for the majority of the public, this situation is manageable.
However, for PWDs, pregnant women, senior citizens and children, on account of their predicament, age and height, it is an arduous effort for them to board or alight from the jeepneys when the steps are high.
By Dexter A. See