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Mayor to jeep drivers: Shift to modern units

Raymart Lolo

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Physical distancing is harder to manage in public utility jeepneys. (Photo: MMDA Facebook)

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian is encouraging drivers and operators of traditional jeepney in the city to keep an open mind about jeepney modernization.

On Thursday, Gatchalian vowed that the City Government of Valenzuela will assist and walk them through the entire process should they decide to push through on having modernized units.

With the resumption of operations of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) still on hold despite the declaration of General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and the “traditional” jeepney phaseout posing an apparent threat amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gatchalian said that the city government feels the struggles of the displaced jeepney drivers and will gladly assist their respective JODAs in joining the jeepney modernization program.

“I won’t push you if you don’t want to. But we have to be proactive,” said Gatchalian.

“This issue about jeepney modernization will not end. You will be allowed for now, but there will always be a threat of apprehending you. Isn’t it better to end this? Let’s resolved this so we could sleep well at night,” he furthered.

To note, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) launched the PUVMP of the national government that aims to make the country’s public transportation system more efficient and environmentally friendly by 2020.

Hoping for a positive outcome, the drive and urgency to push for change has received criticisms as it is expected to affect the livelihood of around 600,000 jeepney drivers across the country.

Jeepney Operators and Drivers Associations (JODA) with traditional jeepneys have until the December 2020 to consolidate their franchise and form cooperatives or else they forfeit the chance of getting a franchise and route.

However, modernization comes with a hefty prize. Each modernized jeepney costs anywhere between P1.2 to P2.2 million and is fitted out with a Global Positioning System (GPS), a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV), an air-conditioning unit, WiFi access and a television.

When NCR shifted to a more relaxed General Community Quarantine (GCQ) last 1 June, the DoTr announced the resumption of public transportation. Jeepneys will only be permitted to ply the roads beginning 22 June 22, with modern jeeps or e-jeeps. Traditional jeepneys, on the other hand, will still now be allowed to operate.

“Changing the perspective on jeepney modernization is never easy, but Valenzuela City sees to it that while JODAs are now experiencing the prolonged livelihood impacts of the quarantine period, jeepney drivers are allies alike in helping “move” people and businesses, an undeniable and significant part in mobilizing the economy,” said Gatchalian.

“We will make sure that in the meantime that they cannot earn a living, food packs will be given to sustain their family’s needs, for as long as the city can. [We} will also help them comply with the national government mandate on modernizing,” he added.

p: wjg

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