PHILIPPINES Manila, conflict over new rules on jeepneys

The transport authority confirmed June 30 as the deadline to unite in cooperatives, the first step in modernization that should make the cheapest and most popular means of transport to move around the metropolis less polluting. However, almost a third of the vehicles are still managed by private owners who fear that they cannot bear the cost of the transition.

Manila () – It seems that in the Philippines the tug of war around jeepneys, the characteristic means of transport, will continue. The authorities have been pushing for years to have them removed or radically modernized in accordance with current environmental regulations, but their owners enjoy considerable support among less favored groups of the population, who use them as cheap means of transport.

Inherited from the war jeeps that the Americans left in the archipelago at the end of World War II, the jeepneys are built in countless workshops, often by hand, and surprise for their robustness and decoration, but also for their ability to consumption and pollution. At the end of December 2022, they were back on the streets of the capital, Manila, after a major closure due to the pandemic. These are vehicles that for many still do not offer an alternative, especially in rural areas, where they are used for passenger transport (52% of travelers use them for short distances) but also for the transfer of goods for little money, in routes in any condition and at all times of the year.

Of the 158,000 jeepnis in circulation, according to the competent authorities, only 96,000 have so far adhered to the directive to join cooperatives or transport organizations as provided for in the vehicle and infrastructure modernization law, while it is estimated that at least 50,000 continue to in the hands of private owners. Therefore, they run the risk of being forced to stop when the June 30 deadline expires, which -as reiterated by Joel Bolano, head of the Franchise and Land Transport Regulation Council, the body in charge of managing public transport- continues to be imperative : “If they do not choose to associate, the concessions will not be extended and they will no longer be able to circulate,” Bolano confirmed last week at a press conference, recalling that the term has already been extended several times.

However, there are still two main issues on the table: first, the cost of transitioning to vehicles that consume less energy and pollute less, but which have an average cost of more than double that of a jeepney and, therefore, Therefore, it is out of reach for many private owners or local owners’ organizations. And then there is the need for users to have an equally wide and, above all, economic transport network.

At the moment, it does not seem that the authorities are willing to back down and confirmed that they are studying alternative measures in the event that there is not even greater adherence to their directives.

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Written by Editor TLN

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