Issue of August 6, 2017
     
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Public–private deal eyed in proposed towing ordinance
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Soon, there will be an edict that will complement the city’s Anti-Obstruction Ordinance.

The city council committee on public utilities, transportation, and traffic legislation recently concluded a public consultation on the proposal to have towing services in Baguio.

Among the inputs in the consultation were for the city council to come up with guidelines on when, where, and how towing should be done.

The participants in the public consultation said the proposed towing ordinance should learn from the bad experiences of vehicle owners in the National Capital Region.

The committee is proposing initially for towing services to operate primarily in the barangays but will consider a city-wide operation if the council comes up with a final decision.

Abandoned vehicles, vehicles illegally parked on rights of way, or even at private properties but tend to obstruct roads, vehicles that are stalled for more than 30 minutes on busy thoroughfares are some of the instances when towing may be done.

The proposed towing ordinance shall be a partnership between the government and the private sector, committee chairCouncilor Benny Bomogao said.

Bomogao said towing will be handled mainly by the City Engineer’s Office under the newly created Traffic Division and will be complemented by private towing companies.

Towing services will not be exclusive to a certain company for included in the proposed ordinance is an accreditation system for interested companies.

For towing companies to be issued an accreditation, they must pay an accreditation fee annually to the city government on top of other regulatory fees assessed by the City Treasurer’s Office, must be a registered and licensed business entity, must have an impounding area, tow trucks are in good condition and are equipped with towing bar, spare tire, chain block with belt lifter, jack and tire wrench, fire extinguisher, blinker and hazard light, tool box, early warning device, signboard, and should operate for 24/7.

Protocols in towing, including the decorum of towing personnel are also included in the proposal. A towing team shall be composed of a representative from the CEO, barangay, and the Traffic Management Unit of the Baguio City Police Office.

Bomogao said the presence of police and government officials is to ensure that towing is documented and to avoid altercation in case the owner or driver of the vehicle protests.

The committee on public utilities also proposed standard towing fees, creation of an adjudication board to settle protests, and how to dispose vehicles that owners do not retrieve from the impounding area.

The proposal is one second reading and will be resubmitted to the city council for further deliberation.


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