Gov to form Task Force to arrest colorum operators

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 07:25 AM June 15, 2023

Gov. Aris Aumentado said he would create a task force to run after operators running colorum businesses in tourism, especially in the transport sector, in a bid to level the playing filed for the legitimate operators and the fly-by night operators.

Sitting with tourism stakeholders at the Transportation Forum convened by the Bohol Tourism Office at the Panda Tea Garden, June 9, the governor said it is disheartening when tourists he engaged with, during his 9 years as a regular Bohol Manila commuter, said they admire the beauty and charm of Bohol but it is expensive here.

He fears that the high cost of Bohol tours, could drive the tourists away to Hongkong, or other Asian country that is less expensive.

Devoting more time for the lengthy discussion with the sector leaders, the governor listened as the forum also exposed problems including tricycles and tricabs illegally operating tours, high tourist transport accreditation costs, tourist franchise restrictive to single unit owners, operation of self-drive units and its corresponding tourist safety issue, few transport vehicles servicing busy routes and the lengthy bureaucratic processes in obtaining franchise and tourist vehicle accreditation.

The governor also admits, the issue on the high costs, does not just involve the transport sector, but has been pervasive in the tourism industry.

In the public transport sector for example, the lack of open public transport routes and vehicles to serve Panglao airport to Alona has presented an opportunity for unscrupulous drivers and operators to operate out of line and demand exorbitant fares for such a short trip.

In the tourism transport sector, legal and tourism accredited vehicles and drivers as tourism frontliners which the Department of Tourism made sure are up to the international standards, are being out-sold by competing private operators who may demand less but tourists may end up paying more, get sloppy service and killing the legitimate accredited services.

And while solving the entire breadth of the problem is necessary, to bring back that competitive edge in tourism, Aumentado said Bohol has to take it one at a time.

Already elated of the recent declaration of the United Nation’s Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s for the entire province as a global geopark which adds to the tourism promotions, the governor fears that the bad review tourists spread about Bohol’s price is taking much faster and better than any tourism promotions.

During the pandemic period, local tourism stakeholders implemented a measure that actually kept colorum vehicles from operating when they agreed that such were denied entry into the tourist sites.

Only those vehicles with drivers that could not present the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board tourist or public transport franchise and the DOT accreditation for tourist transport can get in.

And while tourists then went for these illegal rides, the discomfort makes them realize they contracted an illegal operator.

For the governor, the setting up of a task force enhances enforcement efforts to identify and penalize colorum operators.

He hinted increasing checkpoints specially in tourism sites, conducting regular inspections, and imposing stricter penalties for violators will hopefully curb the problem.

Moreover, the Land Transportation Office through its chief Yvonne Auza also admit that colorum transport operators are more serious that they can effectively cut.

In fact, she said they are now shifting to using private vehicles in their operations to apprehend colorum vehicles offering their services, as the LTO vehicles have been marked.

These people are also organized that they have a social media presence, exchanging information about the LTO Team’s whereabouts, she said.

With a sparse manpower to run the office and perform street operations, Auza asked legitimate drivers of accredited vehicles to report to the LTO when they see colorum vehicles, so the LTO can get to them.

May you understand us, let us give our tourists the same tariff rates, the governor pleaded to the operators who also tend to go illegal after years of non-regulation on colorum businesses have led to irreparable damage to the industry.

The governor also pleaded to every stakeholder to help foster collaboration among government agencies, transportation associations, and local communities to collectively address the issue. (PIABohol)

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