By Jun N. Aguirre
It seems to be a status quo for the local government of Malay on its plan to phase out traditional tricycle units on this resort island. The planned phase out should have been in effect by January 1, 2020. However, due to the onslaught of typhoon “Ursula” on December 25, Boracay was plunged into a total blackout.
This prompted the local government unit (LGU) to continue to allow the use of traditional motorized tricycles as a temporary solution to the transportation crisis since e-tricycles were unable to charge their batteries without electricity.
Malay acting mayor Floribar Bautista said that this was in effect for an indefinite period of time. “We are allowing the traditional tricycles (using gasolines) to operate. We may resume our plan of phase out when Boracay recovers from the devastation,” he said. Bautista said that there is no definite schedule yet for the phase out.
Last year, traditional tricycle owners and commuters have appealed to the local government not to pursue the planned phase out citing displacement of jobs and unemployment.
But while the LGU is bent on pursuing the phase out, they are also still awaiting the commitment of the Department of Energy (DoE) of sending 200 units of e-tricycles to Boracay.
The promised e-tricycles were committed since October 2018 prior to the reopening of Boracay Island. In a statement filed on October 16, 2018 the DoE signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and with the LGU of Malay town in Aklan for the (supposed) donation of 200 energy-efficient e-tricycles.
“The e-tricycles are our contribution to Boracay as we embark on a more sustainable tourism development for the island,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
“We have partnered with DOTr and the Malay, Aklan LGU in order to improve the public transport system for the tourists and most specially for the Boracaynons as a form of livelihood,” Cusi said.
The DoE e-tricycle project, through the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, aims to provide a more sustainable and efficient mode of transportation for the public and offer livelihood opportunities through an alternative transport system.
One of the major beneficiaries of the e-tricycle project is the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO) in coordination with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. A total of 10 e-tricycles will be given to BATO, which were intended for their livelihood.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the DOTr will assist the DoE in the shipment of the e-tricycle units to Malay, Aklan.
Cusi said electric vehicles would reduce the vulnerability of the country to the volatility of international oil price movements and other economic impacts.
“We have to offer a new perspective for the Boracay transport system through alternative energy technologies. The e-trikes are a concrete example of this and the government’s promise of building back Boracay better,” he said. The government’s e-trike project is funded by a loan from the Asian Development Bank amounting to 1.73 billion pesos for the Market Transformation Through the Introduction of
Energy Efficient Vehicles (E-trike) Project which was extended until May 2019.
The program calls for the rollout of 3,000 e-trikes by May 2019.
The e-trike project initially sought to roll out 100,000 units of electric tricycles funded from the ADB loan totalling 21.672 billion pesos, but Cusi cancelled a part of the ADB funding, scaling it down to 1.73 billion pesos covering the 3,000 units which were already bid out to suppliers.
The DoE e-trike is a project that encourages the transition from oil to cleaner sources of energy,” Cusi added.