In its effort to further strengthen the implementation of its initiative to crack down defective and smoke-belching vehicles across Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has recently launched a new ‘chatbot hotline’ that enables the public to instantly report unroadworthy cars to a special government council.
‘Sumbong Bulok, Sumbong Usok’ (SBSU) is an online hotline that facilitates instant reporting of smoke-belcher sightings to the Interagency Council for Traffic (I-ACT). The goal is obviously to make it easier to submit complaints, which is facilitated through Facebook Messenger, the interactive chat feature of the most popular social media site in the country, Facebook.
Through this program, netizens could now more easily participate in the government’s ‘Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok,’ a campaign that was launched in January 2018 to control smoke-belching in line with the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 (Republic Act 8749), which sets punishment for both the driver and owner of air pollution-causing vehicles.
Accepting other traffic violation reports
Aside from smoke belchers, SBSU will also accommodate reports about illegal parking, unauthorized service vehicles, and other forms of metro traffic violations. Netizens can also report presence of illegal vendors in sidewalks and roads.
According to DOTr Undersecretary Tim Orbos, this online platform is aimed at expanding the enforcement capabilities of I-ACT, especially during night time when only a few enforcers are deployed on the streets. The program is also expected to provide the agency with more data about where and what time road policy violations are often committed.
DOTr will also collaborate with other government offices that are part of I-ACT to process and resolve complaints. Those agencies include the Highway Patrol Group (a unit of the Philippine National Police), the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
How to make a report
The reporting process is made simple and fast:
- Log in to your personal Facebook Messenger account (PC or mobile).
- Select the type of complaint from a menu of preset available reports (Send Report, Check Concern Status, or Announcement).
- Provide information about your report or complaint like the location of the incident and the plate number/s of involved vehicle/s.
- Attach a photo or video to support the report and to give authorities other necessary information for them to make initial action.
The chatbot even reminds users to send a report or take photos/videos only when they are safely parked or if they are passengers. DOTr has assured that all reports they receive through SBSU would be looked into within the day. However, the duration it would take to implement action may vary, depending on the response time of the concerned government agencies.
SBSU is the third biggest program against air pollutants in Metro Manila’s roads since 2010, when MMDA launched a mobile hotline where concerned citizens can report smoke belchers and traffic violators via SMS or MMS (multimedia messaging service). The second major initiative was rolled out in January this year (Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok).