The Cebu City government may finally regulate the habal-habal transportation service.
In Cebu, you MUST know about the local motorcycle taxis called habal-habal. This informal form of public transportation in the Philippines is commonly used in rural towns and far-flung areas with few public transport options.
This consists of riders carrying passengers on the back of their motorcycles and bringing them to specific locations. In other areas, motorcycles are modified to carry more than one passenger and some goods and belongings.
These are most prevalent in mountainous areas like the Cebu Transcentral Highway, where traditional public utility vehicles struggle to navigate its narrow roads, challenging terrain, and uphill slopes.
Some habal-habal drivers even operate within the city, providing a faster, albeit more expensive option for commuting. Aside from giving better access to attractions and hotspots, you can also traverse the city’s roads and highways more efficiently.
While you may consider riding a motorcycle taxi in order to experience Cebu City’s hidden gems, expect some bumps on the road.
Motorcycles aren’t the safest vehicles. In fact, a Filipino motoring website ranked motor-bike-related incidents as the top cause of traffic fatalities in Metro Manila last 2019.
They lack protection that aids riders in the event of a crash like seatbelts and airbags.
Motorbikes can also hardly be seen by bigger vehicles along major roads and highways, creating a larger risk for sideswipes. Riders can be tempted to do risky maneuvers because of their high acceleration.
This is even harder when you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle as a passenger. You never know what bike some drivers may have, and some may be more difficult to board due to their size or weight.
One of Cebu’s most glaring problems regarding habal-habal drivers, however, is that this service is basically not regulated by any transportation-based office in the country.
Without higher management watching over them, drivers are prone to overloading, overcharging, and lacking the proper equipment like helmets for passengers.
There isn’t even a process to becoming a driver, so some can operate without experience or a license.
Regardless of the safety precautions and legal ramifications of the habal-habal service, it is a lucrative and valuable form of transportation that has been ingrained into the country’s culture and has helped thousands in their travels.
A lot of people refuse to see them go away, and the local government knows it. So, they are now finding ways to protect and create a better experience for those who frequently use this informal form of transportation.
A HABAL-HABAL REGULATING BODY IN CEBU CITY?
The city government in Cebu will create the Cebu City Habal-Habal Drivers’ Coordinating Office (CCHCO), a governing body tasked with regulating this mode of transportation service.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama issued an Executive Order creating the department that will soon become a database for all habal-habal drivers in the city. The body is tasked with addressing many of the safety concerns of the commuting public.
The E.O. states that habal-habal drivers must now register their vehicles and possess a driver’s license issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). They must also be registered voters and officially reside in Cebu City.
The governing body may also mandate drivers to attend special seminars on road safety to help them become better habal-habal drivers. This reassures us that drivers are well-trained and licensed to serve as public transportation drivers.
The department is also tasked with working with the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) to discuss routes and terminals to help them avoid traffic on the road, and find a place for them to relax and wait for passengers.
This could also help limit motorcycle roadside parking, create more space for bigger vehicles, and make it easier for passengers to find drivers.
CCHCO will also connect with local Habal-Habal Driver Associations to facilitate their services. This creates a database that regulates everything from their operating hours to their fare prices.
This new habal-habal governing body can definitely improve the service and make it more beneficial for both riders and passengers.
Riders are now regulated and trained to be better drivers and continue to operate in a lucrative business sought after by many passengers every day. Passengers, on the other hand, are more assured of a safer, fairer experience while on a motorcycle.
The habal-habal service will definitely thrive, as its convenience allows for better transportation whether it’s in the city or en route to the mountain province. Giving riders supervision will make an already booming business for traveling to Cebu much better.