After a government transport officials’s controversial ride on a ‘habal-habal’ or ‘motorcycle taxi’ to beat traffic congestion along the Bonifacio Global City, commuters who patronize this new mode of public transport took to social media expressing their take on the issue.
Netizens, most of whom probably are harried urban commuters find the habal-habal as the solution to beat the traffic while others are more concerned about their safety noting that the two-wheeled motor vehicle used for public transport is illegal in the Philippine traffic code.
The emergence and proliferation of the habal-habal in the metropolis is a direct response to the government’s failure in finding solutions for traffic decongestion and inabilty to provide an efficient mass transport system.
Why was it called habal-habal?
According to Wikipedia, Habal-habal is an indigenous means of transportation usually used in far-flung barangays where jeepneys and tricycles cannot stand the rough, steep terrain and narrow roads.
Habal is the Visayan word for the mating act of animals and habal-habal, given the Visayans’ propensity for doubling a word to diminish its meaning, refers to the crammed sitting position of the riders.
Just like any other motorcycle navigating a busy street in the metropolis – except that there is an extra helmet dangling from the handlebar or from the driver’s arm. Then the driver calls – “motor (motorcycle), ma’am/sir?”
The habal-habal comes in two forms: one is motorcycle with an extended seat protruding over the back wheel that can accommodate up to five passengers, minus the driver.
The second, more complex form of the habal-habal, also called “skylab,” can seat up to 13 persons, including their baggage. It has extensions consisting of wooden planks placed across the back seat of the motorcycle to form the seats for the passengers.
Risk of using habal-habal
Both versions of the habal-habal are currently illegal in the Philippines.
Passengers who are injured or even killed while riding the habal-habal cannot claim benefits because this industry is not covered by insurance.
If you would take the habal-habal ride, choose the motorbike that takes only one passenger. Remember that the driver should have an extra available helmet for you.
Being a two-wheeler, the motorcycle taxi is able to weave through stationary or slow-moving traffic, easily changing from one lane to another.
It can take a commuter to practically anywhere he needs to be, at a fraction of the time that it would take a regular taxi to get to the same destination under heavy traffic and for the same, or sometimes higher rate.
With the government’s continuing efforts to solve the worsening traffic condition in Metro Manila and in other key cities in the country, Filipinos are left with no choice but to take other alternatives that would easily bring them to their destinations on time.