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PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
MANILA – Is this the end of the Philippines’ iconic transportation? A deal was signed on Tuesday to get jeepneys off roads, a move that an official described and “ambitious and politically challenging”.
Drivers and fans need not fret, however, as the deal only targets ageing units, which will be replaced with modern units that are safer and more efficient.
“Today we embark on something more ambitious and politically challenging. We will try to replace 220,000 ageing and inefficient jeepneys nationwide with new vehicles,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Tuesday as he announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement between him as chair of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), and Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The deal includes a programme that will provide financial assistance to jeepney operators so that they can acquire new electric and environmentally-compliant units.
LandBank has reportedly put up a P1 billion (Dh73,8 million) credit facility for the pilot project that will cover the replacement of an initial 650 jeepneys at a cost of up to P1.6 million (Dh118,095) per unit.
The signing of the deal on Tuesday will finally get the wheels rolling on a long-held plan by the government to replace what Dominguez described as “inefficient dinosaurs” of local roads.
The plan took a long time to push through following opposition from transport groups who fear that it would cause them to lose their livelihood.
“There will be political resistance, no doubt, from those who do not wish change. We will have to conduct effective public diplomacy to raise the acceptance of this programme. We must convince the jeepney drivers and operators that this is the way to go. They must understand the financing package will make the shift affordable,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said that the new administration under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte prioritizes environmental safety conservation and has the political will to replace smoke belching jeepneys with eco-friendly public transport.
“The government must carry out this difficult task of convincing public utility jeepney drivers and operators as well as the riding public that the ‘well-loved’ Philippine jeepney has become an inefficient dinosaur that must now be relegated to the museum and replaced with a cleaner, healthier, safer and more fuel-efficient means of everyday transport for the country’s bedraggled” commuters,” he said.
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