taxis that run on LPG – metro manila’s toxic taxis?
this is all over metro manila – taxis that use LPG to power the taxi instead of gasoline or diesel. most of these taxis are old taxis but there are a few that are still new. LPGs are used because of it’s low cost compared to regular gasoline. low cost of fuel means higher income for the taxi driver and the taxi operator.
but is this higher income for the taxi driver worth his health?
we talk to the taxi driver about LPG taxis every time we ride a taxi. it is unanimous – each and everyone of the taxi drivers we have talked to says LPG taxis have made them sick. they know this based on their own experiences or they know of taxi drivers who say the same thing. even drivers who drive LPG taxis admit their health is being affected.
these are the most common health complaints of taxi drivers who use LPG in their taxis:
- very dry mouth and throat
- very dry skin
- dramatic weight loss
- gets easily tired
the dry mouth and throat is so rampant and severe that drivers who use LPG are forced to have a big bottle of water beside them in their taxis for them to often drink from. they report they usually consume several bottles (several litters) of water a day.
these drivers are inside their taxis, their lungs taking in the toxic air inside their LPG taxis for at least 18 to 20 hours a day. the driver is allowed to drive their taxis for 24 hours but many of them can only drive for that period of time as they do need sleep.
they say that when they get home, they are unable to do anything else and quickly fall to sleep form so much tiredness driving their toxic taxis. they said that this did not happen when they were driving taxis that use regular gasoline.
we can tell if a taxi is using LPG. the air inside the taxi has a certain smell. it only takes 20 minutes of being inside the taxi and a massive headache sets in. that is spending just 20 minutes inside the taxi – what about the taxi driver who spends 18 to 20 hours in it? some taxi drivers also say call center agents who work the night shift refuse to ride taxis that use LPG.
we have talked to several taxi drivers who tell us that they have tried LPG taxis before and all of them give up on it just a few days after driving one. one driver quit after just 1 day of driving an LPG taxi. almost all of them say they know of one or two drivers who have actually died after driving an LPG taxi.
why are they still using LPG taxis?
it’s the additional earning they get from it. drivers say that even though the boundary for LPG taxis is higher than those that use regular taxi. they earn an additional P200 to P400 per day.
taxi operators like it too because of the additional earning on LPG taxis – they raise the boundary to P1,700 per 24 hours for LPG taxis versus P1,100 for regular gasoline taxis. the additional income per day of P600 is huge when you consider operators own dozens to hundreds of taxis.
between the two it is actually the operators who benefit the most while the drivers suffer the most harm and possibly irreparable harm. the additional income they get from driving LPG taxis will not compensate for what it does to their health and the ensuing health care cost that they will need to spend later on. besides, drivers do not have a choice if the operator decides to convert all his taxis to LPG use.
drivers who refuse to drive LPG taxis have reached the same conclusion – they feel the harm on their health is not worth the additional income they get from driving LPG taxis. besides, they feel the additional income is really not that high and definitely not worth it.
the history of LPG taxis is an interesting one. taxi drivers say that the only way the LTO will extend the life of a taxi franchise is if it is converted to LPG use. there is a law that mandates taxis at a certain age are supposed to be retired. this law is waived if it is converted into LPG, thus you can see that most of the old taxis run on LPG.
taxi drivers have also said the korean-made LPG conversion kits is a business owned by ex-FG mike arroyo. the rampant conversion to lpg of taxis occurred during the arroyo administration.
the marketing behind LPG use in taxis is also very aggressive. most of the LPG fill up stations are owned by a mike arroyo crony. these LPG fill up stations have an aggressive rewards marketing program where drivers who patronize the fill up stations accumulate points that can be exchanged for almost everything and anything for the home and their families like t-shirts, kitchen and dining utensils, school items and other goodies.
aside from the aggressive rewards program, these fill up stations also provide sleeping quarters for use of the drivers who fill up with LPG for free. they have comfortable beds in air-conditioned rooms, bathrooms and even meals for free for the drivers.
these aggressive marketing programs obviously keep the drivers loyal to the fill up stations and the use of LPG. add to that the additional earnings and you have them hooked but all of these in exchange for their health and if the stories are to be believed, their lives.
in recent months, we have also seen in the news of taxis that catch fire while on the road. these are LPG taxis. LPG is highly flammable and all it takes is a spark to set it afire when the gas escapes from the tank and the tubes. taxi drivers are saying this happens when the engine overheats that cause a spark and in turn sets the taxi ablaze.
what is the government doing about it? none that we have heard of. the taxi drivers are not complaining and the operators are certainly keeping quiet about the problem. owners of fill up stations will also be quiet. toxic taxis has not been reported in media as much as well.
when will the government do something about it? we think it will do something about it when a tourist or a foreigner falls victim to the toxic taxis and then the line “it’s more fun in the philippines” is rendered a lie.
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