OPERATORS and drivers in Baguio City can have a sigh of relief. Romy Romero, Baguio-Benguet representative to Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators na tutol sa Phaseout [STOP] National Council of Leaders is thankful for a smooth jeepney registration ongoing at the Land Transportation Office adding all pending registrations halted in December are now being honored with strict guidelines.
Romero said the amid the registration, the fight opposing the entry of e-jeepneys in the city continues after getting the backing of the city council. In a resolution sent to the Senate, the local council is backing the calls of operators and drivers in the city with the measure sent to the Senator Grace Poe who chairs the committee on public services.
“Senator Grace Poe should be informed on the plight of the jeepney associations and drivers in the city regarding the modernization as well as the support of the City Government of Baguio on the stand of the jeepney operators and drivers on the matter,” the resolution said.
The council enumerated disadvantages of the planned phase out of jeeps saying manufacturers have not yet come up with a modern design for jeepneys which could be used in the mountainous terrain of the Cordilleras.
Aldermen said the condition of the roads in the city should be taken into consideration as well as the possible loss of jobs of hundreds of drivers as their operators may no longer be able to avail of the electronic or solar powered jeepneys due to cost.
Factoring in the inability of drivers to earn and pay for the daily boundary as operators and owners of the modernized jeepneys would likewise have to increase boundary to overcome the cost of the new jeepneys and the great reduction of the number of modern jeepneys to cater to the constituents of the city should all phased out, old or dilapidated jeepneys need to be replaced with the modern vehicles.
Aldermen also bemoaned the requirement of a minimum of 10 public utility jeepneys per operator and per franchise is not feasible to the operators considering the cost of the modern jeepneys.
The council wants to pull out from being a pilot site for the e-jeepney operations in a show of support to operators opposing plans to upgrade traditional jeeps to units worth P1.6 million.
Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said if the modernization plan ensues, there will be less earnings for drivers and a higher fare for passengers. Department Order No. 2017-011, the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) issued by Transportation and Railways Secretary Arthur Tugade on June 19, 2017, seeks to provide safe, comfortable and environmentally-sustainable modes of public transport to commuters but it also aims to phase out old and dilapidated jeepneys to be replaced with the prescribed modernized jeepney units like the electronic, hybrid, LPG-power jeepneys or jeepneys that have Euro-4 compliant engines costing about P1 million per unit, thus, a plan that will effectively bury jeepney operators in debt.
There are over 3,000 jeeps in the city and the modernization will mean the end of the livelihood for over 6,000 drivers here bemoaning a lack of consolation and orientation. Prototypes presented to the city were Class 2 and 3 which are not suited for the terrain of the mountain city.
By Maria Elena Catajan