Biz leaders back program to modernize jeepneys
Local business leaders expressed their support to the administration’s proposed jeepney modernization program expected to be implemented in two months, saying that this will be beneficial to all.
While they have yet to come up with a study on the matter, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng said the program was seen to greatly help ease the public transport experience of commuters here.
“Whatever is good for the welfare of the commuters is good for the development of the city,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the CCCI’s general membership meeting last week.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier announced that he wants all old and bulok (dilapidated) jeepneys in the country replaced by January 2018, which the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is currently working on.
Benny Que, CCCI transportation committee chairman, also backed the program, pointing out that this would create more convenience for commuters as well as be environmentally-friendly.
He said that while total jeepney phaseout can also be considered, the government should also look for ways to help drivers who will lose their jobs such as giving them training for other forms of livelihood.
Philip Tan, past president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), earlier said that the transition is an appropriate move to improve the public transport system but should have been made a long time ago.
Aside from modernizing jeepneys, he also stressed the need for the government to invest in other forms of public transport such as buses, which can cater to more passengers.
Political will to implement the new program was also necessary for its success, Tan added.
The initiative, however, has not come without opposition, with thousands of drivers and operators across the country staging a two-day transport strike earlier this month to protest the government’s move.
DOTr Undersecretary for road transport Thomas Orbos, meanwhile, said the support of the private sector is also crucial in the successful implementation of the program.
Orbos said that the jeepney or public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program is the biggest non-infrastructure project the government will be undertaking, which is expected to have a direct impact on 270,000 jeepneys nationwide, thousands of buses and millions of commuters.
“The PUV modernization program is a transformational, large-scale initiative and flagship project of President Duterte, backed by the comprehensive tax reform program of the Department of Finance,” said Orbos.
The program envisions a structured, modern, well-managed, environmentally-sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihood, while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely and comfortably.
Orbos said that in Cebu, there are already two applicants set to come up with 100 modern jeepneys by January 2018 and another local manufacturer expected to participate in the creation of these vehicles.
He said that the modern jeepneys are designed to be environment- and persons with disabilityfriendly.
The DOTr, he added, has come up with a 5-6-7 loan program for operators, which comprises a 5percent down payment, 6 percent annual interest, and a 7-year payment period.
But since the government is giving a subsidy of P80,000, Orbos said operators no longer have to pay down payment.
“Let’s say a unit is P1 million and the down payment is 5 percent, which is P50,000, you don’t have to pay a down payment anymore,” he explained.
Displaced drivers will also be given significant livelihood skills by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) while tricycle drivers can be trained or uptrained to become bus and jeepney drivers.
Families of drivers and operators can also avail of scholarships as part of the social safety nets included in the program.
When the Department of Transportation implements the jeepney modernization program, passenger utility vehicles 15 years and above will be phased out. The program has also been getting the support of the business sector.