By Emmie V. Abadilla
For the first time, the public and the private sector are pushing hard for a long overdue reform in the country’s road-based public transportation system – the Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) Modernization Program.
At least 24 government agencies and 20 transport groups and cooperatives nationwide showed their support for the program during its launch held at Camp Aguinaldo the other day.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) sought everyone’s help to move forward with the PUV modernization plan.
The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (FEJODAP), the United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), the Coalition of Operators, Drivers, Employees, Atbp. (CODE-X) and ACTO all supported the launch.
Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) are working on affordable terms to ensure government support during the transition process to make a financing program offering low equity, low interest rates, and longer payment terms available to operators.
Local car manufacturers and body makers will be tapped to provide modern, safe and environment-friendly vehicles, according to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez.
Apart from the local agencies and academic institutions, the program also has the support of several international partners, such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, among others.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade allayed fears that the program will affect the livelihood of PUV drivers and operators. He thanked transport groups for working with the government instead of rallying in the streets. “We can’t do this program alone. Operators and drivers should be unified behind us. We are open to dialogue with them to effect change.”