IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORM

WHILE the modernization of public utility vehicles has always been in the wish list of past administrations, thought of as a solution to the congestion and pollution problem in our roads, the same has eluded realization over the years.

President Rodrigo Duterte, the practical president with a strong political will, decides to make things happen. But already he has stirred a storm of protest from a group of operators identified with the Left.

In past days, these operators had launched a series of protests and strikes across the country. 

They claim that the government’s PUV modernization plan was “too hasty” and would only benefit foreign auto manufacturers at the expense of ordinary drivers, operators and commuters.

But the government has maintained its stand, saying it does not take a closer look to see that the guidelines would actually mean a win-win situation for everyone involved – operators, drivers, commuters, LGUs and other motorists as well.

Along with the rationalization of routes, standards for PUVs will be much more stringent, focusing on passenger safety and comfort –CCTVs, Wi-Fi connectivity, easier access for PWDs, as well as safety features such as GPS and speed limiters.

Through training programs and improved working conditions, PUV drivers will have the chance to become more professionalized and salaried instead of being paid on a boundary system, doing away with the “bastos” image that had rooted in the Philippines’ transport system for some years now.

As for the issue that the new PUVs are “too expensive,” the Development Bank of the Philippines has recently launched the Support Alternative Driving Approaches (PASADA) program, a P1.5-billion financing program in which operators can avail of low-interest financial assistance to upgrade their units. #

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