MOTORISTS and commuters travelling along Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) and other traditionally grid-locked roads in Metro Manila noted in the last few days some improvement in the traffic and it soon became apparent that it was because the government had started a campaign against unroadworthy vehicles.
Hundreds of old jeepneys have now been taken off the road by Task Force Alamid of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic after they were found to have bald tires, no lights even at night, and belching black smoke from old engines.
In the course of the traffic campaign, many jeepney drivers and operators opted to keep their vehicles off the road before they are caught and their units get impounded and penalized.
The drive, however, has led to a problem for many commuters. Unable to get their usual jeepney rides, they have been stranded in many parts of Metro Manila, including Quiapo, Manila, along Commonwealth in Quezon City, Guadalupe in Makati City, and in Baclaran, Parañaque. With the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) operations still having problems, many commuters have been late to work or to school.
Beginning last Tuesday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) pitched in with a plan to allow city buses to ply the routes of the jeepneys, along routes specified by the Metro Manila Development Authority.
The buses will be deployed during the peak hours – 5 to 9 in the morning and 4 to 7 in the evening. This should help meet the problem faced by Metro Manilans who have long been dependent on jeepneys in going around the city.
The bus plan is a temporary solution designed to meet the emergency posed by some 1,000 jeepneys that have suddenly stopped operating. The LTFRB permits are good for three months. At the end of this period, we hope the nation’s jeepney operators and drivers will realize that they cannot stop the campaign, now being pushed strongly by the Duterte administration, to modernize the nation’s jeepneys, too many of which have old, polluting engines, and dilapidated bodies.
The very least they can do is to fix their old vehicles so they will not be stopped by the enforcement officers of Task Force Alamid. But it would be best if they get together, form cooperatives, and join the modern age with new jeepney units that meet all the requirements for road safety, passenger convenience, and environmental security.