MANILA – After more than a month under an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said a partial lifting of the public transport ban is being eyed for personnel of essential services.
In a Laging Handa network briefing on Wednesday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is considering the limited operation of public utility buses (PUB) and trains in certain areas, based on studies presented by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua on Monday.
“Kung papayagan ho ng IATF, magpa-partial operability tayo pero yung (If the IATF-EID will allow it, we will have partial operability but the) operational capacity will be abbreviated at mababawasan (and lessened),” Tugade said.
He said aside from certain PUBs, the IATF-EID is eyeing the resumption of limited operation of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), LRT-2, Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), and the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
On the resumption of public transportation in areas with no documented cases of Covid-19 — including maritime and land transportation — he said the possibility is being studied and if justified, the DOTr will submit a recommendation to the IATF-EID.
“Kapag inapprove ng IATF–maintaining yung mga requirements gaya ng social distancing, ‘no mask, no ride,’ handwashing, at thermal scanning (If approved by the IATF-EID, we will have to maintain social distancing, ‘no mask, no ride,’ handwashing, and thermal scanning),” Tugade said.
He added that basic social distancing principles will have to be enforced not only inside public utility vehicles but also while passengers are waiting in line.
Meanwhile, he said the construction of 13 rail projects in the country has resumed this week after the approval of the IATF-EID.
“Napaka-ideal ho na maumpisahan ngayon ito pagka’t hindi ginagamit at hindi operational (Resumption of works is ideal at this time as the rail services are not under operation),” Tugade said.
The resumption of works includes the fast-tracking of projects and comprise of two phases — rail installation and relocation of utilities.
To ensure the safety of workers during the pandemic, he said strict protocols set by the IATF-EID are followed at all ongoing projects such as the rationalization of workers, on-site accommodation for workers, strict social distancing, dedicated shuttle services, and controlled work hours. (PNA)