Biz lead­ers back pro­gram to mod­ern­ize jeep­neys

Cebu Daily News - - ENTERPRISE - By Vic­tor An­thony V. Silva RE­PORTER

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.

Tran­si­tion

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.

Cru­cial sup­port

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.

Large-scale ini­tia­tive

“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.

Loan pro­gram

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.

CDN FILE PHOTO

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.

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