AN OFFICIAL from the Davao City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) wanted all members of the transport sector to get inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccines since they are among those in the vulnerable sectors.
“Dapat mandatory gyud na siya kay mao na’y pinaka-[vulnerable sector] nga maka-interact sa laing tao. Lain-laing tao ang musakay ka sa ilang sakyanan. Sila pud dapat protected sila kay wala ta kabalo kung ang nisakay sa ilaha,” CTTMO head Dionisio Abude said on Saturday, July 3, 2021 in an interview with the media at Agro-Industrial Foundation College in Ecoland, Matina.
(It should be mandatory since they are the most vulnerable sector as they are interacting with different people. Different kinds of people ride in their vehicles, they should also be protected since they do not know the health condition of their passengers.)
The Davao City government started rolling out the Covid-19 vaccines to the transport sector, including bus, jeep, taxi, and tricycle drivers, which are considered to be part of the Priority A4 group or the essential workers.
The vaccine rollout is in partnership with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-Davao), Dumper PTDA Partylist, and other transportation companies.
Abude said many drivers lined up at the vaccination area as early as 3 a.m. He said they were able to control the line, and the entire vaccination was orderly implemented.
While the city government emphasized that the vaccine rollout is voluntary, Abude encouraged drivers from getting the vaccine to give them added protection as it would be impractical to ask each of their passengers whether they have been vaccinated or are manifesting Covid-19 symptoms.
The city will be rolling out the Sinovac vaccine for the transport sector until July 22.
Abude said they are targeting to vaccinate around 1,000 individuals from the transport sector per day.
The traffic official apologized to those who were not able to reach the cutoff as they strictly implement the “first come, first served” scheme.
“Kita magsinabtanay ta kay dili tanan ma-accomodate sa isa ka adlaw (We are hoping for your understanding since we cannot accommodate everyone within the day),” he said, adding that they can return the next day.
As of now, he cannot yet confirm if the city will still be allocating more doses once the 20,000 apportioned doses for the transport group run out as they are only relying on the allocation from the city government.
Meanwhile, drivers are reminded to bring their license or public utility vehicle (PUV) identification card, or their franchise document or certification from the operator.
Drivers with no existing license will not be prioritized, he said.
Abude assured that the vaccine rollout will not affect the transportation demand in the city since they limit the slot to 1,000.
Meanwhile, drivers who took a day off from operating during the vaccination need not worry, Abude said, as the city will be providing them with food packs and grocery items after the vaccination courtesy of Dumper and LTFRB.
Abude encouraged drivers to line up early so they can continue driving afterwards. Bus drivers were also advised to go to the area during their free time to avoid skipping work.
He said they did not receive any hesitation from the drivers, adding that the CTTMO had been rolling out their information drive to further encourage drivers.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Davao Region (LTFRB-Davao) Director Nonito Llanos III said other PUV beneficiaries are those with existing franchises including trucks-for-hire, public utility buses, taxis, UV express, among others.
Llanos also said PUV drivers, whether Davao City residents or not, as long as they are traversing in the city, are allowed to get a Covid-19 vaccine sponsored by the Davao City government during the rollout.
“Sa tibuok Pilipinas, first time ning nahitabo nga usa ka rehiyon nga gisponsoran og usa ka local government, labi na sa natad sa public transportation,” Llanos said.
(In the entire Philippines, this is the first time that a certain region is being sponsored by a certain local government in the vaccine rollout, especially for those in the public transportation sector.)
Armando Escoto, public utility jeepney (PUJ) driver, did not hesitate to get vaccinated as he started lining up around 4 a.m.
Escoto said it is important that drivers like him, who are essential frontliners, get the vaccine not only for their protection but also for their passengers.
“Adlaw-adlaw mi gapamasahero. Sige mi libot-libot. Unya lahi-lahing tao amo nakahalobilo. Maong dako amo pasalamat kay natagaan og higayon nga mapabakunahan ang tanang drivers,” he said.
(We drive to our route every day and we interact with different kinds of people. That is why we are grateful that all the drivers are given the chance to be vaccinated.)
Meanwhile, in a statement, Dumper PTDA Partylist Representative Claudine Bautista-Lim said the assistance is their way of thanking the transport sector for heeding the call of the government to have themselves vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.