A typical padyak operator.
By MANLY M UGALDE
TABACO CITY: Known for its cutlery industry, this city of 45 barangays is also raring to be crowned as the country’s “padyak” capital which title local leaders here wanted to land in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Around 10,000 padyak or foot-driven cycles are plying the streets here since Tabaco officially became a city nine years ago, but city hall records show that actually only 600 units have been officially registered and issued with corresponding plate numbers.
About several years ago, a padyak owner said tricycles were free to operate without having to register with the local government unit until then Mayor Jaime Berces tried to limit their number because of the rampant complaints of overcharging, and other abuses by drivers and operators.
Thus the registration, issuance of plate number and body number in order to track down those who become subjects of complaints.
The mayor then also wanted to decongest the roads of these foot-operated means of transport which have become a major traffic problem.
Berces, aside from the registration charges, also imposed additional charge of 25 centavos daily ticket collected on “padyak” caught by city collectors for some infraction.
Berces’ formula, however, went ineffective as the units continued to proliferate even if the registration fee was later increased to P300 per unit. At that time, an estimated 2,000 units were already plying the city’s major streets, prompting the mayor to exclaim that they have already become a bane than a boon to the city’s development.
Today, Tabaco City has to contend with accommodating “padyak” units that move like disturbed ants to every direction. The city managers had to bar these units from plying the city, national, and poblacion roads from 7am to 7pm daily.
To give life to the burgeoning “padyak” industry, however, incumbent Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro said she wanted this city to be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “padyak” capital of the Philippines.
Mayor Luistro even included a “padyak” parade with operators in uniform during the recent celebration of the city’s annual Tabak festival.
But traffic policemen observed that because of their sheer number, most operators are no longer earning sufficient income.
The cut-throat competition could give them P100 a day at better times, else they would be seen playing the “cara y cruz” game of chance to boost their income, though losers have to go home with none.
City Councilor Fred Adalla, chair of the Sanggunian committee on public utilities and transportation revealed that many passengers have complained to him about being charged from P30 to P50 for a trip which leaves a bad image to the city and its law enforcers.
According to Nicanor Torres, once president of a group of tricycle operators comprising three barangays, many operators and drivers are already feeling the brunt of too many padyak units, aside from the existing motorized trimobiles which are more than enough to service the riding public.
He admitted many padyak passengers fall prey to abusive drivers as they were charged P30 per passenger or more from city poblacion to the city port, especially those who are riding the ferry boats to Catanduanes.
Meanwhile, more padyak units are being churned out in shops, though the recent units have been observed to be relatively smaller in size to cut on costs and materials which resulted to more inconvenience to would-be passengers despite the higher fares being charged by abusive drivers. – Bicol Mail