Unsafe at Any Speed; (Editor's Note: Waiting 20 to 40 Years before Moving against Old and Unsafe Vehicles Is Hardly the Answer as Noted by the Author.)

Manila Bulletin, August 22, 2006 | Go to article overview

Unsafe at Any Speed; (Editor's Note: Waiting 20 to 40 Years before Moving against Old and Unsafe Vehicles Is Hardly the Answer as Noted by the Author.)


Byline: Romeo V. Pefianco

IT'S a tribute to the durability of Liberation '45 vehicles that they are still running around loose, duly licensed, and loading passengers and light cargo.

Still useful after 60 years

The passenger jeep is more than 60 years old but Filipino operators are also amateur tinkerers who can maintain and present for registration contraptions that are breaking apart.

Most of the medium-sized or light passenger vehicles we see in RP run on old and secondhand engines manufactured 20 to 30 years ago and sold as junk to us. Importers of scrap engines are making a fortune in the junk trade. These engines are mounted on locally fabricated chassis and easily registered by our transportation agency.

Transferring driver's rightful seat

Engines with limited capacity are fitted to a frame, wheels and steering mechanism that can load three times the engine's power.

Worse, there are bus companies that import truck engines with steering wheels on the right front side. Their mechanics wearing sando can easily transfer the steering mechanism to the left front side to conform with local driving rules.

The transfer of the steering wheel from right to left has no guarantee from Japanese truck makers that this process conforms to the basic requirement of safety. Ancient and unsafe vehicles get registered without being seen.

Registration without verification

In the provinces and Metro Manila vehicles described above are duly registered by our transportation agency without benefit of an on-site verification of the vehicles' condition and documentation.

Passenger buses with converted steering mechanism - from right to left - load passengers for long trips to southern Luzon provinces. Some buses could only run less than half of the distance before falling to a deep highway ravine killing a dozen or more passengers. This incident is followed by an announcement that the bus company's operation was suspended for a few weeks without addressing the main cause or causes of the tragedy.

PU jeeps loading 45 passengers

PU jeeps in some towns south and north of Manila openly defy LTO rules by loading 30 to 45 passengers, some on the roof, for a vehicle limited to carry 16 or 20 passengers. …

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