THE government is intent on completing the jeepney fleet modernization program as scheduled, after the initial stages of the project started in 2017 resulted in only 4,000 modernized jeepneys taking to the roads.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said yesterday that the modernized jeepneys that are operational according to its latest count is well below the 170,000 units the government had targeted for modernization by mid-2020.

Ang deadliest deadline nyan, June 30, 2020. Mawawala na lahat ng mausok at bulok na sasakyan, jeep, basically (The “deadliest deadline” for jeepney modernization is June 30, 2020. By then, all smoke-belching and dilapidated jeepneys will be phased out),” LTFRB Board Member Ronaldo F. Corpuz said in a briefing yesterday.

The government launched the PUV Modernization Program in June 2017, requiring operators to decommission units of a certain age, for replacement with modernized units.

For jeepneys, the requirement is to phase out units that are 15 years or older within three years from the launch of the PUV Modernization program, or by June 2020.

But two years into its implementation, some transport groups are still not on board with the government’s modernization initiative.

Yesterday, the Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO) and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) staged protests against the PUV Modernization Program, citing difficulties experienced by the drivers and operators in complying with the terms.

They asked the government to review the modernization scheme and withdraw plans to phase out older jeepney units that have been properly maintained and roadworthy.

The LTFRB said it is open to dialogue to discuss any concerns transport groups may have in the process of fleet modernization, but will remain firm on the new standards for Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs).

“Willing naman kami makinig… Doon sa nagsasabi na sumasang-ayon naman sila, subalit may mga hindi sila gusto sa proseso, pwede naman namin silang pakinggan doon (We’re willing to listen. Those saying they agree with the PUV Modernization Program but have questions on parts of the process, we will listen to them),” LTFRB Technical Division Head Joel D. Bolano said.

The agency also said it believes the remaining time for the June deadline is sufficient to achieve refleeting.

Ugali nating mga Pilipino, kung kelan last hour, tsaka bibira (Filipinos are in the habit of doing things at the last hour),” Mr. Corpuz said. — Denise A. Valdez