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Abante to government: Slam brakes on jeepney modernization plan

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House Minority Leader Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. on Thursday urged the government to “slam the brakes on its jeepney modernization plan” while the whole country is reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Manila lawmaker also appealed to transport policymakers to come up with a “coherent, comprehensive plan” that will allow jeepney drivers to resume work.

“Instead of trying to implement what I and many jeepney operators believe is an ill-conceived jeepney modernization plan, the government should instead suspend the program, revisit it, and improve it with input from jeepney operators, car manufacturers, and other sectors,” Abante said.

“We certainly cannot implement it now, not while one, there are still issues with regard to the program itself; and two, because current conditions make it impossible for jeepney drivers and operators to upgrade their vehicles,” he said.

“The whole transportation sector is suffering because of this pandemic. Jeepney drivers and operators have not earned anything since March, so we cannot expect them to have the capital needed right now to replace their units,” Abante said.

“Kahit i-subsidize ng gobyerno itong programa na ito, wala na talagang pera ang mga tsuper,” he added.

“The priority now should be to come up with a coherent, comprehensive plan to get our jeepney drivers back on the roads and to find ways to make them ply their routes with the proper safety precautions in place for commuters,” stressed Abante.

Abante suggested that government challenge design and engineering students or professionals to collaborate and come up with jeepney designs and prototypes that address the need to efficiently transport commuters while being faithful to the spirit of the original jeepney.

“These prototypes must also be cheap to produce and not harmful to the environment. With the talent and skill we have in this country, I am sure we will be able to design and build a modern jeepney that satisfies all these requirements,” he said.