DOTr urged to have clearer plans for jeepney modernization program

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOTr urged to have clearer plans for jeepney modernization program

The Department of Transportation was asked to iron out guidelines for their planned jeepney modernization program. Office of Sen. Grace Poe

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe on Monday urged the Department of Transportation to impose clearer guidelines for their planned jeepney modernization program.

For Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Service, the DOTr failed to present definite guidelines for their program.

Poe cited three flaws of the program which were the funding for the jeepney modernization program, interest of the operator or driver’s debt, and the manufacturers or suppliers who would provide engines.

“Hindi ko masasabi na buong-buo na at maayos na ang kanilang plano. Talagang marami pang butas na kailangan nilang ayusin (I can’t say that DOTr already has concrete plans. They still have a lot of flaws to iron out),” Poe said in an ambush interview after the Senate hearing into the jeepney modernization program on Monday.

“Yung guidelines kailangang malinawan sino ang accredited kung mayroon ba o wala (The guidelines on manufacturers should be clarified on which firms are accredited or if there are none),” she added.

Poe said Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade himself admitted that his agency’s guidelines on the modernization program are not yet permanent.

The senator cited that the financing terms may change while other areas in the country should be assessed since they might no longer need the jeepney modernization program.

“Tugade is still open for suggestions and willing to attend dialogues. That is clear,” Poe said in Filipino, adding that the DOTr consulted some transport groups regarding the program but not all of them.

Due to this, Poe suggested that the DOTr should establish “pilot projects.”

Poe recommended that the agency prioritize that new jeepneys comply with safety, roadworthiness and emissions and let other concerns follow such as side-door accessibility for persons with disabilities.

“Hindi pwedeng sabay-sabay, lahat ng areas (You can’t address all areas at the same time),” Poe said.

Poe said she is amenable to DOTr’s plan to allow old models which are road-worthy to operate even after three years. She said there should be a compromise.

“Because not all the 270,000 jeeps would phase out within three years… Let us remember that there are 20 million passengers riding the jeepney every day. Maybe it is not realistic to say that all jeepneys would be replaced,” Poe said in Filipino.

The senator stressed that what is important is that the roads are safe and the jeepneys reduce smoke belching. 

The Senate committee conducted a hearing into the government's jeepney modernization program after transport groups announced plans to stage transport strikes. They are opposing the government’s plan to phase out jeepneys aged 15 years and older.

RELATED: Poe hopeful hearing will resolve jeepney modernization woes

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