By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
With the milling season officially opened, local sugar group Tatak Kalamay (TK) is asking all local government units in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, to provide travel protocols that will not hamper the movement of sugar cane trucks from farms to mills throughout the province.
In a recent online dialogue with Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board Member, Atty. Dino Yulo, TK requested that he presents their recommendations to the provincial government and enjoin all other local chief executives to formulate a standard travel protocol on roads and highways that traverse the province.
“Among the recommendation is to put standardized identification streamers on sugar cane trucks that states the name of the driver and helper, the farm where it came from and the mill destination,” Yulo said, adding that it must be a “non-stop travel” from the point of origin to the sugar mill and vice-versa, “except for vehicular malfunction.”
This, said Yulo, will also allay the fears of local government units along the routes that have set protocols in place for the safety of their community.
He said that while majority of the sugar farms are outside Bacolod, “there are farms under the jurisdiction of Barangays Estefania and Granada, and in addition, a major sugar cane route is via the circumferential road, thus the cooperation of Bacolod is also very much needed.”
Yulo added that they will also recommend setting up of “special lanes” particularly at border controls so that the sugar cane trucks can pass easily on their way to the mills. He said that while there is less problem when enforcers see truckloads of canes, “they might be stricter with empty trucks coming back, unless these trucks are already identified with a standard streamer which must be approved by the provincial government and the SRA if necessary.”
This, he added, will also help easily identify erring drivers as the farm owner’s information is plastered on the streamer.
Similarly, they will request an ID for sugar planters and their workers that handle payrolls and quedans and a separate one for logistical needs of sugar mills such as those transporting molasses and cargoes.
Lastly, Yulo said they will also seek a dialogue with all local government chief executives on how best to issue acceptance letters for sugar cane workers that will be transported from one farm to another as milling progresses.
“We earlier agreed with the provincial government that all farms must ensure that their workers undergo testing, especially those coming from outside Negros Occidental,” Yulo said. Included in the agreement is the setting up of quarantine facilities in sugar farms and implementation of strict health protocols in the workplace.
With those measures in place, Yulo said that he hopes the mayors will provide easy acceptance of workers transported from one locality to theirs./DGB, WDJ