The impending crackdown on Grab and Uber drivers without the necessary franchise to operate is worrying thousands of commuters like government worker Karen who fears the directive may affect her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Karen, who studies law at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, told the Inquirer on Monday that while she understands that transport network companies should follow the rules on franchises, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should be more considerate since thousands of commuters rely on this “convenient” and “efficient” mode of transport.
She said that should the LTFRB push through on July 26 with its decision to apprehend app-based drivers who do not have franchises to operate, she would be forced to ride in taxis whose drivers are sometimes rude and refuse to bring passengers to their destination.
Karen added that without the transport network companies (TNCs), her studies might be affected as commuting to school using other mass transport systems like jeepneys and trains would be too tiring.
Regular Uber user Jef Manalac shares Karen’s predicament, adding that some taxi drivers tamper with their meters or do not give the exact change. He noted that instead of focusing on a system that works, the LTFRB should crack down on “colorum” vans and taxis.
However, LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada stood firm on Monday on their decision against the TNCs, pointing out that they “were simply cleaning up the mess that the TNCs created.”
“The board gave both TNCs the opportunity to comply [with our order] to show good faith. In the event that they refuse or fail to comply, then enforcement is in order. The board will not be influenced nor will it succumb to pressure,” she told reporters.
Last week, the LTFRB fined Grab and Uber P5 million each for violating the terms and conditions of their accreditation, such as the inclusion in their platforms of drivers who do not have franchises to operate.
Lizada said the TNCs were not given the harshest penalty which was cancelation of their accreditation out of consideration for the riding public.
By July 26 though, Grab and Uber drivers without franchises will be fined P120,000 and their vehicles impounded for three months should they continue to operate.
Lizada warned that if TNCs defy the LTFRB’s order, “the board might be constrained to apply the full force of the law considering that both [their] accreditations are under review.”
Of the estimated 56,000 drivers of the two TNCs, only more than 3,000 were given franchises by the LTFRB until it imposed a moratorium last year.
Bobby Coronel, founder of drivers’ group TopSpeed and a Grab driver, said that they have been trying to comply with the LTFRB’s requirements for the issuance of a franchise. He added though that should the agency push through with its order, they would have no choice but to comply with it.
Despite the LTFRB order, Grab said in a statement yesterday that “at this time, we will not deactivate any of our partners.”
“Grab will continue reaching out to the government to seek clarity on its order. We urge the LTFRB to convene the technical working group as soon as possible so we can discuss important matters affecting the TNC-TNVS (transport network vehicle service) industry, more so the riding public,” it added.