Wearing of air purifiers ‘additional burden’ to PUV drivers, conductors

THE Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu said the new policy requiring public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and conductors in Cebu Province and Cebu City to wear personal air purifiers is an “additional burden” for the already suffering drivers and conductors.

“Ang kana nga policy para namo, tungason ug dili pa g’yod garantiya nga makawagtang ug makapugong aning Covid-19 kundi nakita namo nga dugang ni pabug-at sa mga kaigsoonan natong drivers nga naginabuhi dinha sa karsada pinaagi sa pag-drive,” said Greg Perez, Piston Cebu president.

(For us, that policy is just an additional burden. It also does not give a guarantee to stop Covid-19. It is just an additional cost to us drivers who are merely earning a living on the streets.)

PUV drivers in Cebu Province and Cebu City are required to use air purifiers as an additional measure to curb the increasing number of Covid cases, in addition to the implementation of social distancing inside PUVs.

This became a policy under Executive Order 35-B issued by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and was agreed upon by the provincial officials, Cebu City officials, Philippine National Police, Land Transportation Office 7, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 and bus operators during their coordination meeting on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.

The governor gave bus and minibus operators until Monday, Aug. 16, to procure personal air purifiers for their drivers and conductors.

However, Perez said some operators will pass the responsibility to their drivers and conductors who will have no choice but to shoulder the expense of the purchase if they want to continue working.

He said instead of imposing this “additional burden,” the government could improve its contact tracing activities and provide assistance to drivers and small transportation operators.

Piston, he said, used to have around 700 members in Cebu before the pandemic struck last year. The number has significantly gone down as some members have returned to their provinces and stopped operating because of the current situation, he said.

He also said the number of PUVs allowed to ply now is not enough to cater to the number of commuters in Cebu, thus the problem of social distancing inside PUVs.

SunStar Cebu is still trying to get the side of the Department of Health (DOH) 7 on the mandatory use of personal air purifiers.

Last October, the DOH central office said it is “not endorsing the use of necklace air purifiers that claim to kill bacteria or viruses, or protect from Covid-19.”

“While these devices do not pose any harm, the DOH currently does not recommend using these devices for lack of evidence of efficacy,” it said. (WBS)