The “King of the Road” of what other simply call jeepney in the Philippines, has been a Filipino icon for decades. When you see the public jeepney and its style, you’ll know that it’s from the Philippines.
This may change soon, with the Department of Transportation’s roll-out of our public utility vehicle modernization program. This program will render obsolete the jeepney style that we have become used to, reports Inquirer.
The new style will be more commuter-friendly and environmental-friendly and would be able to help the drivers save up to 43% of fuel savings. However, hundreds of thousands of jeepney drivers are worried about the change.
First of all, the modern jeepney would cost P1.6 million each. The drivers are reluctant in buying new units and being forced into debts.
The DOTr is aware of the drivers’ concern, they have partnered with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to help provide the drivers an accessible lending facility. Loans under the said program will carry a 6-percent interest and will be payable in 7 years.
Other than that, the government has set aside a subsidy of P2.2 billion for the drivers. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said that the P80,000 subsidy per driver will be enough to cover their equity requirements.
Renato Marquises, a jeepney driver who saved up to buy his own old-style jeepney and had not been worried about boundaries ever since 2004 is reluctant about the new paying scheme of the government.
“Let me ask them this. If they were in our position, would they want to be in debt? When all these years you didn’t have to worry about saving a portion of your income to pay debt,”
However, Tim Orbos, the transport undersecretary for road emphasized that the program was not solely for changing the vehicles. It is, in fact, a part of a holistic approach to overhauling the jeepney sector.
“The jeepney modernization program is a comprehensive program that includes the business model, financing, training of drivers and fleet management. It’s an evolution similarly experienced by our neighbors like Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong,”
He added that there will be jeepney ads that can help the jeepney drivers have additional income. The issue of oversupply or undersupply will be tackled.
In a speech in October, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the current jeepneys today are “poisoning the people”. That is why the government will not budge from its position to modernize the jeepney system.
By January next year, it is expected that the DOTr’s motor vehicle inspection systems will be up and running nationwide to determine which jeepneys are no longer roadworthy.