No definite support yet for Davao jeepney drivers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 August) – The city government is still trying to determine the “higher form of intervention” it can provide for jeepney drivers who will be affected by the implementation of the High Priority Bus System (HPBS), an official said Wednesday.

City Planning and Development Office head Ivan Cortez said in an interview the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will submit to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) the result of the feasibility study on HPBS in Davao City this month detailing, among others, the social components of the project to address its possible social implications.

Cortez said the DOTr maintained it would follow the government interventions stated under the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG) but added the P80,000 government support as a form of equity to a loan package for the acquisition of modern jeepneys to replace the old units might be inapplicable.

“The concept of OFG is to compel them to scrap the jeep in favor of a modern jeep. The P80,000 will serve as an equity but if they will not get the modern jeepney they cannot get the P80,000,” he said.

The city had proposed the replacement of jeepneys with buses as a form of public mass transport system unlike the “mini-buses” under the DOTr’s Jeepney Modernization Program, he said.

“At the moment, they have yet to agree on the final draft of the study because of the social components about the project – how will they tackle the implications of the displacement. They have yet to agree on that part,” he said.

Cortez said in an interview at the sidelines of the economic briefing last March 9 that the city asked the DOTr to increase the subsidy from P80,000 to P110,000 per unit turned over for the “scrappage” program and give it directly to affected drivers as compensation.

He said the DOTr will give a recommendation to the National Economic Development Authority-Investment Coordination Committee after submission of the feasibility study for the processing of the loan package from the ADB worth $70 million or P3.644 billion.

Once the ADB loan is approved, Cortez said they expect the initial implementation phase to start by 2019. This will include acquisition of road-right-of-way; construction of bus stops, bus depots, and terminals; and retrofitting of intersections.

The full implementation of HPBS may take place by 2020 or 2021, he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)