Old Trucks and Buses to be Phased Out in the Philippines

Our intrepid Automologist, HAROLD, is back, and he wants more than just old jeepneys, trucks and buses off the Philippine roads. 

After the dilapidated jeepneys are taken off the congested streets of the Philippines, next to be banned are the old trucks and buses. This is part of the 3-year public utility vehicle modernisation programme by the present government. Environmental laws require engines to be Euro 4 compliant, and old trucks and buses certainly fail this requirement, notwithstanding that many are badly maintained and have questionable road-worthiness.

Thomas Orbos, Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), said they are now in talks with truck owners and bus operators nationwide for the eventual phaseout of their units not compliant with Euro 4 standards for engines. Source: Philippine Star.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, Thomas Orbos, said that continuous coordination is being done now with truck and bus operators to effect a smooth phase-out of these undesirable units. It is expected that this process will be completed this year. The first step is to remove those that are not road-worthy and pose great danger to motorists. Orbos said, “During this 3-year transition period, we focus on road-worthiness first—not age—to give time for operators to re-fleet. We will be very strict; vehicles in bad condition should not be used in the first place.”

This strong-handed government initiative to rid the roads of undesirable vehicles came directly from Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte. But any major change like this is not without opposition. Some sectors claim that this will inconvenience commuters, hamper the flow of goods, and benefit bus and truck suppliers.

But to rectify a long neglected problem and modernise a cancerous transport sector require political will. Filipinos always criticise the government for its lack of political will to implement right policies—but now it has an unorthodox government with clear political will, yet still many Filipinos complain. This is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

This writer for years had advocated for the phase-out of jeepneys and to consign them to the museums, and only this government had the political will to do it. In the past 2 weeks, close to 1,000 jeepneys were impounded for road-unworthiness—this is unprecedented in transport history. People complained, saying, “I thought Duterte was pro-poor; removing the jeepneys is anti-poor and pro-business.” In this country, if a President always listens to what is popular, he will not be able to implement what is right.

However, phasing out old trucks and buses will not in any way solve the traffic congestion, because it will only be replaced with a fleet of new ones. I suggest that this government, with its noted political will, to decentralise the ports. Cargo for the north of Manila should be directed to Subic International Port and cargo for southern Luzon should be direct to Batangas International Port; cargo for the Visayas should be sent through Cebu International Port, and for Mindanao through Davao International Port. This will reduce trucks in Metro Manila by at least 50% and drastically reduce corruption at the Manila Port.

May these efforts continue and not succumb to the Filipino “Ningas Cogon” (good start with no perseverance to finish the job) syndrome. What do you think?

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