ILOILO CITY - Preparations are in place to ensure a smooth traffic flow and safe travel for the opening of classes on August 22 in this highly urbanized city of Iloilo.
Jeck Conlu, head of the Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), said Friday they have established the Task Force Balik Eskwela composed of the Iloilo City Police Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to monitor the movements of students and ensure their safety.
"We are asking (for) the cooperation of everyone. Let us follow our enforcers on the road so we will not get delayed in our travel," Conlu said.
In anticipation of the influx of passengers, the PSTMO has asked the LTFRB and transport cooperatives for additional special permits to allow at least 1,800 modernized transportation jeepneys to ply the city's 24 routes starting next week.
He estimated that 1,550 public utility vehicles are currently plying the city streets.
"We will see next week. If we see that the number is not enough, then we will continue to request for augmentation," Conlu added.
To ensure the smooth flow of traffic, the PSTMO will also deploy personnel to areas where vehicle congestion is expected, complemented by the ongoing road clearing operations, especially for roads going to schools.
These include the General Luna Street in City Proper; Luna, La Paz going to E. Lopez Street in Jaro; Tabuk Suba also in Jaro; the intersection in Taft North, Mandurriao; and Molo plaza.
"We redeploy personnel. We will augment our personnel in less congested areas in the morning and in the afternoon," he added.
Traffic personnel will also be deployed to roads near big schools to assist in the loading and unloading of passengers and pedestrian crossings.
Conlu said the LTO and LTFRB would have two teams to monitor possible "colorum" vehicles or those operating without a franchise.
Based on the quick count of the Iloilo City Schools Division of the Department of Education (DepEd) as of 8 a.m. on Friday, 39,645 learners are already enrolled in Kindergarten to Grade 6, while 28,010 are enrolled in Grades 7 to 10 and 22,209 in Senior High School.
Meanwhile, in Antique, the Antique Provincial Police Office (APPO) will set up Police Assistance Desks within the school premises to assist learners.
"The police will also ensure that the learners properly observe the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health protocol, such as the safe physical distancing," Staff Sgt. John Mark Gonzaga, APPO information officer, said in an interview Friday.
The DepEd Schools Division of Antique reported that 128,830 learners have already enrolled in the 603 primary and secondary schools in the province. (With reports from Annabel Petinglay/PNA)