Accident (again?) and overloading

The bad news as of press time (Thursday due to the threat of super typhoon Ompong) was the death of 14 Kalingas due to a jeepney’s having plunged into a ravine. The engine stopped resulting in brake failure but the vehicle was overloaded in the first place.
Overloaded jeepneys is a common sight in the Cordillera especially in the provinces. The roof would be full of people or farm produce, even the front hood. In addition, the center “aisle” inside would have a terraced sacks of sayote, potatoes, carrots or camote, etc. At the back would be around four to six people standing on a ledge and holding on to the edge of the roof. In front of them would be two people sitting on a board (drivers call it “back seat”) that is inserted in between two steel bars that serve as braces of the bended pipes welded on the sides of the back entrance which passengers hold on to when they pull themselves up to enter the vehicle from the back. When the board or “backseat” is placed it blocks the back entrance so the passengers sitting on it have to stand up and remove the board or “backseat” whenever somebody would get out of the vehicle. When the board or “backseat” is not in use, it is conveniently removed and stored under one of the seats inside the vehicle. Sure, it is maximum utilization but of the stupid variety.
Any kind of overloading is stupid for it poses serious risk to life and limb. More so when it comes to jeepneys which are locally assembled—sometimes on the sides of roads or on the sidewalks of Metro Manila. There is not much quality control in such unconventional production sites or processes. More so in the selection of components that will be used in the assembly. In the installation of spare parts, for instance, that will constitute the brake system, the assembler would just go to the auto supply and buy off the shelf whatever is available. He would not even do a rudimentary investigation if the parts were made in china. He might ask the seller about it who would like say that the parts were “orig”, made in Japan.
And so down the road, what did we expect? Substandard spare parts, shoddy workmanship, low quality control standards, no debugging process to flash out defects, and we overload a vehicle beyond reason— is the best recipe for the vehicle to be dubbed as an accident waiting to happen.
Then Murphy’s Law—if something can happen due to a defect in a machine or a system, it will happen at the worst moment or the most critical time. Just like the brake system of a vehicle failing when it is moving downwards with a deep ravine in front of it.
So it happened again in Kalinga. Fourteen lives were lost. And the answer to any question lingering in your mind is blowing in the wind.**

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