By Darlene Delgado
Taxi operators in Panay Island are willing to modernize their units. They have, however, one request to the government: enforce the modernization gradually.
An operator with many taxis would find it financially challenging to modernize his units all at the same time, said Perfecto Yap, president of the Association of Taxi Operators in Panay (ATOP).
Under Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Department Order No. 2017-011, a taxi unit must have a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver, free wireless internet connection, closed circuit television camera with continuous recording of past 72 hours of operation, and dashboard camera (at least 24 hours recording) compliant with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) specifications.
Without these, LTFRB won’t review a taxi’s franchise, or the taxi’s meter won’t be recalibrated and resealed.
GNSS provides geolocation and time information to a receiver anywhere on or near the Earth. LTFRB cites the improved security it offers to taxi drivers and passengers on the move.
A dashboard camera (dashcam or dash cam), on the other hand, is an onboard camera that continuously records the view through a vehicle’s windscreen. It may be attached to the interior windscreen or to the top of the dashboard, by suction cup or adhesive-tape mount.
Dashboard cameras may provide video evidence in the event of a road accident. During parking, some dashboard cams still can capture video evidence if vandalism is detected.
Yap, however, said acquiring these accessories would cost a taxi operator between P8,000 to P9,000 per unit.
The ATOP leader also said these must be bought only at LTFRB-accredited suppliers.
“Okay lang man sa amon provided indi lang pag gulpihon. We are asking nga tani amat-amat,” said Yap.
They understood, he said, that this was all for the security of the riding public.
Aside from the financial aspect of the taxi modernization, however, taxi operators were wary of the security camera requirement. Yap said they feared this could be abused or misused by unscrupulous drivers.
“It could be contrary to our privacy laws. We would not know, too, kon ano himuon sang driver. Basi i-upload-upload sa social media kag himuan istorya (ang passengers). It could even be used for extortion,” said Yap.
There are approximately 2,000 taxi units in Panay Island./WDJ