by Rita Festin
Tricycles are "kings of the road" in Puerto Princesa City.
Tricycles stationed at the Puerto Princesa City airport are color-coded both blue and white
Puerto Princesa City prides itself as the cleanest and greenest in the country, and is a popular tourist destination. But it may well be one of the noisiest cities too because of its tricycles.
Just like any other bustling city in the country, the city has air and noise pollution problems. The pollution is mainly caused by having too many of these tricycles. As of 2005, there were about 4,000 tricycles in Puerto Princesa's poblacion. The tricycles are generally not roadworthy in design because its large sidecars are relatively unstable, most engines are old model-types and poorly-maintained. They therefore take more effort to operate, and caused significant noise and air pollution. Noise coming from these vehicles is measured at a range of 90-97 decibels (dB). Studies suggest prolonged exposure to noise levels at or above 80 dB can cause deafness. These vehicles also emit fine particulate matter, which poses danger to public health.
In a 2003 survey conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), it found that 70 percent of the drivers do not properly maintain their tricycles, which could help cut down its noise and improve pollution emissions. The drivers try to do away with the maintenance since this is an added cost to them considering that they only earn a daily net income of between P100 and P150, or less than $3. Despite the low earning capacity, tricycle-driving is a popular means of living in Puerto Princesa because it does not require much skill. Moreover, the high unemployment rate coupled with the absence of alternative livelihood opportunities persuades majority of households to resort to tricycle driving as a source of livelihood.
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