Transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide-Cebu (PISTON-Cebu) slammed Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s latest memorandum requiring drivers to wear personal air purifiers to prevent COVID-19 infection, saying it was a band-aid solution that will only burden drivers.
In a statement to media on Sunday, August 15, PISTON-Cebu said that the government should at least shoulder the expense of procuring personal air purifiers for drivers if they are truly bent on implementing the said policy.
“Pila ka buwan walay kita ang mga driver tungod sa lockdown ug sa mga bag-ong polisiya sa pampublikong transportasyon. Ang air purifier dugang lamang kini nga gasto sa amoang mga driver ug konduktor,” said PISTON-Cebu Chairperson Greg Perez.
(Our drivers have had no income due to the lockdown and the subsequent policies for public transport. The air purifier [requirement] only adds to the expenses to be incurred by drivers and conductors.)
Personal air purifiers retail for about P200 and above. The average driver in Cebu, Perez told Rappler, makes only about P300-500 per day, after rent and gasoline expenses.
“Usahay wa pud sila’y ganansya. Igo na lang ibayad sa gasolina nila sa sobra sa 16 hours nga biyahe,” Perez told Rappler in a phone interview.
(Sometimes, they don’t make a profit. Just enough to pay for gasoline expenses after almost 16 hours of driving.)
“Ang P300-500 nga income karon sa mga driver depende pud na sa ilang kayod ug depende pud sa adlaw nga naa’y pasahero,” he added.
(The P300-500 income from drivers also depends on the amount of work put in by the driver and on days when there’s enough passengers.)
Pre-pandemic, PISTON-Cebu’s 500 jeepney driver members plied the different cities and towns on the island. Now, Perez said this number has been reduced to half, as the rest have been forced to take up other jobs to keep their families afloat.
Perez said that what the people really need is a hastened mass vaccination program and swab testing instead of the new air purifier mandate.
“Ang kining air purifier usa ka band-aid solution lamang. Ang kinahanglan karon sa katawhan papaspasan ang libre ug luwas nga bakuna ug libreng swab test. Dapat pud pakusgan ang mass testing ug contact tracing, ug himuong libre ang pagpatambal sa mag-positive sa COVID,” he said in the statement.
(This air purifier [requirement] is only a band-aid solution. What the people really need right now is an expedited free and safe vaccine rollout and swab testing. We need to strengthen mass testing and contact tracing, and make COVID treatment free.)
The personal air purifier requirement will take effect on Monday, August 16. This was mandated by Garcia’s memorandum to operators of public utility vehicles, which she signed on August 13.
The Department of Health has yet to formally recommend the wearing of personal air purifiers to prevent COVID-19 infection. – Rappler.com