Scientist activist group AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People expressed support for the transport strike held today by groups led by PISTON in opposition to the planned phaseout of jeepney units older than 15 years.
The government plans to replace old jeepney units with e-jeepneys or Euro-4 compliant units, which will be imported from abroad. These units have lower carbon end environmental footprints compared to traditional models, albeit much more expensive.
“While we agree that there is a need to upgrade and modernize our transportation sector, it should not be done at the expense of small drivers and operators. The planned jeepney phaseout would undoubtedly result to the economic displacement of 600,000 drivers and 250,000 operators who have no way of financing the hefty cost of the new jeepney models,” said Cleng Julve, Campaign Officer of Agham
According to previous reports, these new models cost P900,000 to P1.2 million.
The group also assailed the intention of handing over the management of jeepney fleets to private companies behind the planned phase out.
“Under the veil of ‘modernization,’ the government plans to ease out small drivers/operators to pave the way for the entry of private corporations in the management and control of public transportation. We have seen how the privatization of our train lines have resulted to lofty fare increases in the name of profit. This is bound to happen again if the corporatization of jeepney fleets pushes through,” said Julve.
The group said that instead of corporatization, the government should help the drivers/operators to handle the management of the fleet under a cooperative system where control and ownership of the fleet still rests with them. It should also aid the drivers and operators in shouldering the cost of new technology, within a justifiable and viable terms.
Modernized jeepneys have a role to play in developing the country’s mass transport. However, agham also noted that mere reliance on the importation of new technology doesn’t entail genuine ‘modernization.’
“If the government is true to its goal of developing the transport sector, it should start by ensuring that domestic manufacturing of automobile and spare parts is present and vibrant. Without such an industry to provide the necessary spare parts to maintain and repair vehicles, any new transport technology would suffer the same fate the jeepney manufacturers faced,” ended Julve .