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‘Poor’ excuse

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By George S. Chua

George S. Chua

George S. Chua

In the news recently was the occupation of some families from Metro Manila and parts of Bulacan province, of some 4,000 houses from five government housing projects in Pandi town and the City of San Jose del Monte.  The simplistic argument of those who forcibly took over these houses were that they were poor and that the government refused to provide them “decent homes” and that they saw these homes were unoccupied so they decided to occupy them.

While many people may sympathize with these “homeless” poor folk, it has also been pointed out that these homes were developed for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.  If you ask me, both our Soldiers and Police, also need to have decent homes and that those illegal occupants need to fall in line and have themselves validated as qualified people and have not been given previous homes.  It is not unheard of that families who have been granted government housing end up having these houses leased out or sold and become informal settlers again in the hope of once again being “resettled” in another housing project, thus becoming “professional squatters.”

An even bigger issue is looming in the effort of government to upgrade/phase out jeepneys as the major mass transport system of the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila.  Of course the number one excuse in preventing the modernization of our transport system is that Jeepney drivers and passengers are poor.  The poor have once again been used as the excuse to keep diesel fuel prices low, and turn a blind eye to using dilapidated jeepneys with engines that would not pass the annual smoke emission test, let alone the requirement to be EURO 4-compliant.  A poor excuse if you ask me.

Perhaps the government should also simplify the situation.  The current standard jeepney only has a total passenger capacity of 18, although I am sure that there are jeepneys who have a little less or a little more capacity.  The government rather than radically changing the character of the jeepney by proposing a bus type configuration with a capacity of more than 20 and enough height for passengers to stand up should just have a modern replacement.

The replacement should keep the passenger capacity to about 18 or even slightly less, since the jeepneys tend to operate in secondary roads where the streets are narrower.  It is also necessary for the new jeepney to be EURO 4-compliant and meet safety standards typical of any internationally branded vehicles, as well as the vehicles having some kind of warranty.  However, the most important factor and the biggest excuse given by the jeepney drivers and operators is the cost of the new jeepney, which if you were to follow the proposed design coming from the government would push the price to way over a million pesos.

Well, just how much is a new jeepney?  Without a doubt the most iconic jeepney is made by Sarao, and based on their 2015 price list, their cheapest jeepney with a reconditioned diesel engine and a full galvanized iron body is at R615,000 cash price!   Taking into account the 2-year-old price list plus a new EURO 4 diesel engine and meeting basic safety standards, the new jeepney should cost about R800,000 to make it affordable and not be used as an excuse for non-compliance.  In the same 2015 price list from Sarao, the highest price jeepney they had with 75% stainless body and still a recondition engine on installment is at R820,000.

The big question is, can anyone supply 70,000 brand-new jeepney replacements with a brand-new EURO 4 diesel engine for under R820,000?  The answer is yes, of course!  If you don’t know where to get it and you need 1 or 70,000 send me an email.

(Comments may be sent to georgechuaph@yahoo.com)

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