IN light of road crashes, a senator on Monday reiterated the need for the creation of an independent agency dedicated to addressing worsening transport-safety woes in the country.
Grace Poe, head of the Senate Committee on Public Services, noted that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) already has its hands full attending to various issues facing the transportation sector and having a dedicated agency focused on ensuring safety and determination of causes of road accidents would be a big help.
The senator was referring to the proposed creation of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) under Senate Bill (SB) 162, mandated to determine probable causes of transportation-related accidents on land, sea and air including railway and pipeline systems.
The NTSB would also be in charge of conducting safety inspections on land, sea and air transportation and appraising or assessing existing practices and policies of the transportation sector.
Poe said the transportation board would be under the Office of the President and composed of seven members, with at least three-year experience sea, air or land transport.
Among the duties of the board is to submit quarterly report to the President and Congress on their assessment of the country’s transportation system.
The NTSB can recommend replacement of transportation officials who will be found remiss in their duties.
Former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Alberto Suansing also on Monday said it is time for the country to have its own NTSB that would help in crafting transportation policies.
Having the NTSB would enable Congress to come up with meaningful measures that would improve safety of the riding public, he added.
The Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) expressed support to the proposal, saying the country needs a transportation safety body.
Gus Lagman, AAP president, said the DOTr has too much in its hands and the NTSB could ease the load of the department.
“It is a good proposal, in other countries they have road safety commissions,” he noted.
Poe said the LTO and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board should not wait for passage of the NTSB bill before cracking down on irresponsible public utility vehicle operators.
According to her, the DOTr should pursue urgent nationwide roadworthiness compliance checks on units of all bus firms in wake of discovery that the bus involved in a road crash that claimed the lives of 15 people, mostly college students, was actually plying the roads for three decades already.
She was referring to the tragic accident in Tanay, Rizal last month that killed the students from Bestlink College.
The Senate Committee on Public Services will conduct a hearing today on measures calling for stricter regulation of land-based transportation.