By Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan

P1-B loan program to help modernize jeepney fleet

Posted on May 03, 2017

THE GOVERNMENT has signed an agreement to set up a credit facility that will help jeepney drivers and operators modernize their fleets.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, together with Land Bank of the Philippines President Alex V. Buenaventura and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Martin B. Delgra III, signed a memorandum of understanding in Davao City on Sunday to set up the P1 billion financing program.

The funds are intended to finance the replacement of traditional Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs) for an initial 650 modern units, at a cost of about P1.4 million to P1.6 million per units.

The modernization program aims to gradually phase out traditional jeepneys, and replace them with environment-friendly vehicles equipped with more efficient engines.

“Today we embark on something more ambitious and politically challenging. We will try to replace 220,000 aging and inefficient jeepneys nationwide with new vehicles. The replacement vehicles will help clear the air literally, make commuting safer for the public and contribute to a more rational public transport system,” said Mr. Dominguez.

“It will be an important contribution to fighting climate change. It will help decongest our exhausted roads. It will make commuting a more pleasant activity for our bedraggled commuters.”

Mr. Dominguez -- who is also the Chairman of the government-run bank -- described the jeepney as an “inefficient dinosaur that must now be relegated to the museum.”

“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 program. 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,” said Mr. Dominguez.

Transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) earlier expressed resistance to the idea, claiming that phasing out traditional jeepneys in lieu for new ones will “bury” jeepney drivers and operators in debt.

In late February, jeepney drivers staged a protest strike, leaving many commuters stranded in parts of Metro Manila.

“Everywhere in the world, countries are looking into new transport modes to keep the air clean, move people efficiently and decongest the roads,” Mr. Dominguez said.

“In a few short years, electric cars are expected to outsell conventional vehicles running on fossil fuel,” he added.