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MMDA ready for week-long transport strike with ‘libreng sakay’ vehicles

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A total of 25 vehicles are ready to be deployed, including 4 air-conditioned buses, 2 non-air-conditioned buses, and 13 commuter vans, as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has expressed readiness for the week-long transport strike starting Monday, March 6.

“These libreng sakay vehicles that we will deploy starting Monday can carry around 1,200 passengers per trip,” MMDA acting Chairman Romando Artes said after the meeting with concerned agencies on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Artes said that the agency is still assessing whether there is a need to suspend the expanded number coding scheme during the said week as the inter-agency task force has yet to determine the affected routes and weigh the possible effects of the strike. 

Artes also said that contingency measures were already in place to ensure that the commuting public will not be inconvenienced and transportation operations will not be paralyzed during the seven-day transport strike set by transport group Manibela.

“We assure the public that we are ready and our assets and resources are readily available for dispatch to areas where there are reported stranded commuters to not compete against those transport groups who will not be joining the strike,” Artes explained.

He announced that the agency will dispatch vehicles offering free rides to the riding public that will be affected during the duration of the transport strike.

As for the routes, the MMDA together with other concerned agencies is set to have an inter-agency task force meeting tomorrow to determine and finalize the routes where these vehicles and other assets will be prepositioned.

He is also in favor of conducting online classes until the last day of the transport strike to minimize the number of possible stranded passengers.

“We also encourage the public to remain in their homes, especially on Monday, if there are no important matters which they have to attend to,” Artes advised.

Warning to motorists

Meanwhile, MMDA General Manager Usec. Procopio Lipana, who is also the head of the inter-agency secretariat, warned motorists who will take advantage of the situation in the next few days.

“We will have our full deployment in the MMDA and in the Philippine National Police – National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) and we are on alert in case there will be incidents of snobbing and overcharging passengers.”

The MMDA is set to deploy more than 2000 personnel to monitor situations on the ground who are tasked to give immediate feedback and reports as to areas where there are stranded commuters.

Department of National Defense Assistant Secretary Henry Robinson said that the DND is ready to deploy their vehicles to the inter-agency task force.

The PNP-NCRPO, through its Operations Officer PCol. Roman Arugay, said that they will exercise maximum tolerance towards those who will join the tigil-pasada.

Other agencies who expressed their readiness for the transport strike are the Department of Interior and Local Government which will determine situation at the local government units, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) which is in talks with bus companies in case there’s a need for augmentation, and the Office of the Executive Secretary which will provide other government offices with employees shuttle services that will likewise give free rides to affected commuters. 

Some Metro Manila local government units will also offer libreng sakay in their areas in view of the transport strike.

The one-week transport strike will be staged to protest the government’s PUV Modernization Program.

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