Seventeen drivers have been terminated by the management of Southern Star Bus Co. during the past 10 months amid mounting public clamor for a stricter measure to ensure the safety of the Boholano riding public.,
Noel Fuentes, Southern Star manager said the dismissal of the drivers came after an investigation found them to have violated the company’s various regulations for the safety of their passengers ranging from absence without leave (AWOL) while some did not pass the probationary Â period and some due to reckless driving. He admitted that four of those terminated were found positive on drugs.
He said Â a random drug test is conducted among their drivers since the company
“We never allow any of our drivers at fault to remain on the wheels,” Fuentes said while assuring that the movement of their buses are being monitored by road marshals.
The statement of the bus company manager came after several road accidents involving their buses caught the ire of the commuters who aired their criticisms over the airlanes when the top-datedÂ “Inyong Alagad”Â of dyRD did a two-day marathon discussion on how the public has perceived the operation of this bus company which now controls the bus transport business in the province.
It was learned that Southern Star has 116 buses serving majority of Bohol’s 47 towns.The policy is to deploy a bus from the City Integrated Bus Co. after every 20 minutes. The company started to operate on September 2012
The day after this paper published an editorial regarding the public’s mounting criticism on the recent road accidents, Rey Repollo, vice president for operations of Ceres Liner, the mother company, calledÂ The ChronicleÂ from Bacolod City to inform that their head office dispatched traffic marshals to monitor their operations here.
“Our road marshals are equipped with speed gunsÂ alcohol breath testing gadgets Â to check on our drivers,” he said.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan, for its part, called Â the bus company officials to a hearing to answer complaints from the riding public following the recent road accidents. Board Member Abel Damalerio led the propvincial lawmakers in drafting the list of recommendations for the company to improve it’s services here.
Asked on how they screen their drivers, Fuentes said the driver applicants should be experienced while they will be required to do Â a test drive under their maintenance crew and aÂ familiarization ride on their route.
Fuentes also bared Â that their drivers are given six staggered days in a month to rest with a maximum of 24 working days a month Â only. He admitted the commission basis is being adopted as this is a common practice nationwide among bus companies.
He likewise said a total of 38 mechanics are ensuring the maintenance of their buses.
In order to further monitor the performance of their drivers,Â Fuentes said the company has maintained its “hotline numbers” for complaints, 0917-7712233 and 4111296.
Â LGU CONTROLS
There are still Â a few towns in the province that are not part of the service route of the bus company like Dauis, Panglao, Catigbian, Balilihan and Sikatuna.
Fuentes said that while its mother company, Ceres Liner holds a franchise to operate nationwide, they could not insist to operate in an area where the local government unit (LGU) particularly the town mayor will not issue its green light for them to serve their towns.
He cited the case of Panglao where the riding public has a pending request for them to operate. But, until now, the Panglao LGU has not issued its permit citing that they want Â to protect an existing local transport company operating in the town.