Those who plan to go to work on Monday and Tuesday should start looking for alternative means of transport, as transport groups confirmed that they will stage a nationwide two-day strike to protest the government’s jeepney phaseout project.
In an interview, Ernie Cruz, chairman of the National Confederation of Transport Workers Union (NCTWU), said his group plans to launch a nationwide strike on May 22 and 23.
Cruz said that the primary motive for their protest is to express their disapproval of House Bill 4334, otherwise known as the Traffic Crisis Act of 2016, that requires the phaseout of jeepneys 15 years old and above.
Cruz is asking the commuting public for its patience and understanding for any inconvenience that the strike may cause. He adds that they simply want to remind people the value of the jeepney to the daily lives of Filipinos. Cruz said he is also expecting the participation of transport groups in their planned activity.
In the Visayas, the local governments of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu said that they will deploy trucks, buses, and other modes of transport to ferry commuters who may be stranded in the streets. Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak said they have prepared at least 15 Kaohsiung buses that will be fielded in areas where many stranded passengers congregate. The Cebu City Transportation Office will be monitoring the situation on the streets on real time.
The nationwide transport strike is being led by the Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON). George San Mateo, president of PISTON and convener of “No to Jeepney Phase-Out Coalition” (NJPOC), explained that despite the reassurance from the government that there would be no jeepney phaseout, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is still planning to proceed with a “scrappage” program this year.
The LTFRB modernization program
Under the scrappage program, old and decrepit jeepneys will be replaced by environment-friendly electric vehicles, as the agency moves for a more modernized transport system for the country.
PISTON said that if it happens, around 600,000 drivers and 200,000 operators nationwide will be affected by the planned jeepney phaseout.
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