Next week will be the start of a new year but unlike everybody else, it wouldn’t be as merry for some of our jeepney drivers. Starting January 1 2018 jeepneys that are at least 15 years old will be removed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) from the streets as part of the government’s transport modernization program.
It’s a “Now what?” moment for the affected drivers. Where would they go now that their main source of income is now being pulled out from the roads by the government?
But according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the program is not anti-poor as people choose to see it. He said that the goal is not to phase out the business but rather to assure its profitability.
And so our jeepney drivers can expect help from the government as they promised to provide financial assistance amounting to P1.5 billion through the Development Bank of the Philippines’ Program Assistance to Support Alternative Driving Approaches (PASADA). With this, transport firms and cooperatives can buy the new PUVs.
But not all affected drivers can partake in the program. Under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines., jeepney operators who are part of a cooperative or consortium can be granted a franchise. And the transport companies and cooperatives will still have to go through qualification to be considered as an eligible borrower.
And transport groups have expressed their argument opposing the idea saying that small operators, drivers, and cooperatives will be negatively affected by the program because they will be replaced by larger corporate-type franchises by the government. Though some groups like the Stop and GO Coalition and the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) have expressed their support on the jeepney rehabilitations but not the complete phase out.
But DOTr Undersecretary Thomas Orbos said that it will not be physically possible to remove all these jeepneys in the Philippine road all at the same time. There are approximately 700,000 jeepneys nationwide and they are targeting for a total phase out by the year 2021.
So do you think this is for the greater good or not?