PUJ drivers hit modernization, no signboards policy

Jul. 17, 2017

This photo taken on February 27, 2017 shows members of the public transportation group Transport of Southern Mindanao for Solidarity, Independence, and Nationalism, voice out their disapproval of the impending Jeepney Modernization program of the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board in a protest carava in Davao City. The group claims that some 500-600,000 drivers will lose their livelihood because of the modernization plan. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A jeepney drivers and operators group here hit the government’s Jeepney Modernization Plan anew, which if implemented, would replace the traditional rides to those compliant with the Euro-4 standards, or those powered with electricity.

In a protest rally on Monday, local public utility jeepney group Transport of Southern Mindanao for Solidarity, Independence, and Nationalism – Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide Chairperson Charito Junares said small time operators and drivers would never be able to afford the new jeepneys, even with the government’s incentives and loan offers.

Junares, who himself used to drive a jeepney, said earnings from a day of driving was just enough to feed his family and the cost of maintaining a jeepney. The government’s offer of loans, he said, would only put the ordinary jeepney driver into a cycle of debt.

“Ang kantidad sa maong sakyanan, P1.6 million man, unsaon nimo pagbayad nga kung adunay interes, bisag 2.6 lang? Unsaon nila pag-apas niana? (The price of such vehicles are at 1.6 million. How will you pay for [the loan] even if at 2.6 percent interest? How will they catch up?),” he said.

Junares said some drivers currently drive in shifts, making it harder to earn more even if they work overtime.

Earlier this year, transport groups allied with PISTON also held nationwide protests and transport strikes to oppose the said program.

In earlier statements, Piston claimed that the program would disenfranchise 600,000 drivers nationwide, as the program included the creation of a Fleet Management system, which would not accept small time operators with less than 10 E-Jeeps or those who do not have the minimum P7 million capital.

Junares also expressed dismay at the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Law, which among other things, prohibited the display of signboards on windshields of PUJs.

Junares said this has caused great confusion among passengers, who no longer have the convenience of referring to the signboards to determine the jeepney’s route.

This is prevalent especially in the downtown and uptown areas of the city, where the route system is more complex.

“Kung imuhang ruta, butang nato diri sa Sasa. Pila ka ruta ang nag-agi sa nagkalain laing agianan. Naay Bajada, naay Cabaguio, naay R. Castillo. Karon, ug naay munaog sa R. Castillo, unya imuhang ruta Bajada, unsa may mahitabo niana? Away na sa atong drayber ug pasahero (For example, here in Sasa, jeepneys ply three different routes: Bajada, Cabaguio, and R. Castillo. Now if [your passenger] drops off at R. Castillo, but your jeepney is for Bajada, what will happen? That will cause confusion among our drivers and the passengers),” he said.

Junares added that many drivers had difficulty picking up passengers on Monday because jeepneys with no signboards traditionally mean that the jeepney was not conducting business.

Junares said he thought the program was overkill, as he has never known road accidents to be caused by the signboards.

“Ako naga-drive kaniadtong 1997 hangtod karon, wala man gyud ko nadisgrasya kabahin sa signboards. Kung mahimo, kung adunay balaod nga ing-ana man galing, ang amoa, unta naay consultation I’ve been driving since 1997 until now, I have never met accidents related to the signboards. If possible, if there are rules like this, we should have been consulted),” he added.(davaotoday.com)

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