Truck ban killing vegetable industry

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BAGUIO CITY  –The strict implementation of the city’s truck ban ordinance is actually closing the various roads of the city for the transport of perishable goods from the farms to the markets that will virtually kill the lucrative vegetable industry of Benguet, one of the major drivers of the local economy not only in Benguet but also in the city, a provincial official told members of the City Council here Tuesday.

Benguet board member Nestor Fongwan, Jr. said while provincial and municipal officials respect the decision of the local legislative body to regulate the use of the city’s streets by trucks, the implementation of the truck ban should also allow exemptions covering trucks loaded with perishable goods such as agricultural crops and cutflowers which must be immediately delivered to the different Metro Manila and lowland markets and even up to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Fongwan reminded his counterparts in the City Council that Baguio City is actually benefitting from Benguet’s vegetable and cutflower industry, thus, local officials must also be considerate to the plight of vegetable and cutflower truckers to be exempted from the coverage of the truck ban because the trading of the agricultural crops from the La Trinidad trading post is round the clock and should not be unduly delayed.

Benguet is the source of at least 80 percent of the country’s supply of highland vegetables that are transported to the Metro Manila and lowland markets daily.

He said city officials should not be too harsh in dealing with vegetable truckers because the death of the province’s vegetable industry would also affect the city’s economic growth because of lesser people from the province will patronize the various businesses in the different parts of the city.

Gil Ganados, president of the Benguet Truckers Association, pointed out the implementation of the truck ban in the city, especially from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., will definitely affect the delivery of agricultural crops in Manila, Visayas and Mindanao because the delay in the delivery of the produce will not only affect them but also the vegetable farmers who will not get paid for their vegetables.

He explained truckers delivering vegetables to the night market in Pasig City around 11 p.m. daily must be in the place several hours before the said schedule while those providing the vegetable supply of traders in the Visayas and Mindanao regions must be at the port to load their crops to the vessels before midnight daily, thus, some of them will have to traverse the city roads during the implementation of the truck ban, thus, the need for the local government to adopt the total exemption of trucks loaded with perishable goods like vegetables and cutflowers.

Representatives of truckers agreed to the proposal for them to pay an exemption fee from the truck ban, provided that, the fee to be charged to them by the local government should not be excessive, oppressive and confiscatory because it will be the farmers that will suffer the consequences of the fees to be collected as this will be passed on to them.

Instead of making hard for farmers and truckers to traverse the city’s streets, Benguet officials and truckers called on city officials to heed their plight in the spirit of good working relationship among neighbors for the realization of overall growth and development.

By HENT

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