‘Habal-habal’ in the city: Easy but illegal riders elude cops
The Makati City police have noted the proliferation of “habal-habal” or private motorcycles carrying commuters for a fee, particularly from Ayala Avenue to Fort Bonifacio, but admitted that catching anyone engaged in these illegal operations is not that easy.
Until arrests are made, daily commuters like “Junella’’ will likely continue taking these bikes as her ride of choice going to work.
“If I will take a bus going to Bonifacio Global City (BGC), it will take me 20 minutes just to stand in line to pay for my ticket and then a few more minutes to actually board the bus,” said Junella, a nightshift worker.
She said it would take her 45 minutes to get from Ayala to her office in BGC if she would just rely on the bus service, while a habal-habal could make the trip in only about 15 minutes for a P40 fare, P20 more than what she pays for a bus ride.
Before becoming an urban option, the habal-habal has been known as the go-to transport especially in remote rural areas with undeveloped roads and with few jeepneys or buses. An expanded version known as “Skylab’’ allows a bike to take more than one passenger, by being fitted with a wooden plank for increased seating capacity.
Junella said she was aware that habal-habal operations are illegal in the city, but said they had been very reliable for rush-hour commuters like her.
The chief of the Makati police, Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban, said his men had been doing random crackdowns on private motorbikes plying routes on Mckinley Road going to Fort Bonifacio, but admitted it was difficult to catch anyone in the act.
Habal-habal drivers usually pick up passengers at a gas station adjacent to an MRT Station near Ayala. But when policemen start questioning suspected habal-habal drivers parked at the area, they would say they were merely waiting for a colleague, a friend or a relative, according to Lukban.
“We know the dangers these vehicles pose as most of them break traffic rules just to reach their destinations faster. But how would you know who are the ‘illegals?’” the official said.
Habal-habal drivers usually get discovered as such after they have been flagged down for traffic violations. “We are always on the lookout for traffic violations, particularly when they run counterflow or the drivers and passengers are not wearing helmets,” Lukban said.
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