MANILA, Philippines – Bong Nasul has been a driver/operator of jeepney for more than two decades now.
In his everyday operation from five in the morning to three in the afternoon plying the route of Guadalupe-Fort Bonifacio, he earns P1,700 — but not all daily earnings go to him, as he spends P600 for gasoline.
With this, he takes home P1,100 only for his family needs like the daily expenses of his two children who are now in college, food and medicines.
This is the reason why he is not in favor of the government’s Jeepney Modernization Program.
Bong said an ordinary jeepney driver and operator like him cannot handle the P800 he has to pay daily for the purchase of a modernized jeepney unit. Paying the said amount has been the proposal of the government so ordinary jeepney drivers and operators could afford new models of jeepneys.
“P800? I said the boundary for my jeepney is also P800. What will be left for me if I have to pay that P800 for the daily installment? How can I support my family? When your brakes get broken, the break bonding of the fuel, and oil is too expensive nowadays,” Bong said.
The Department of Transportation (DOTR) explained it would not be difficult for the drivers to pay the said amount.
The government vowed to provide a P80,000 Subsidy for the first 250 jeepney drivers.
DOTR Undersecretary for Road Transport Thomas Orbos said once their vehicles are replaced by the new ones, many passengers will be encouraged to ride it, and hence may result in increased earnings.
Orbos explained the drivers can save more in terms of paying for gasoline as modern jeepneys use Euro-4 engine.
“In the new jeepney you will have more passengers. In fact from 16 it will increase to 22. It is more fuel efficient given that it uses Euro-4 engine. We are looking at a 43% savings on fuel consumption,” Orbos said.
The DOTR also plans to create a cooperative that would help jeepney drivers in paying the modern jeepneys.
This is through the placement of advertisement in jeepney units, so they could earn more.
Orbos further noted that fixing routes could also help in lessening the intense competition among public utility vehicles.
“The route rationalization will also determine how many should be plying on a particular route, whether bus or jeepney. What’s happening now is that they are competing with the same passengers,” Orbos said.
DOTR also suggested that cooperatives pay jeepney drivers salaries.
However, for drivers like Bong, the question is how much is the salary being offered.
“If they will give me a salary of P1,000 daily I will agree to it,” Bong said.
Based on the agreement of the Land Transportation Office and several government banks, a driver can loan from P1.4 million to P1.6-million to buy modern jeepney units.
They can pay units within 7 years, with a 6% interest rate.
For now, the government continues to create an effective mechanism to help the drivers keep pace with the Jeepney Modernization Program. – Joan Nano | UNTV News & Rescue