THE Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu welcomed Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s move to convince the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to allow its members to ply their routes again.
However, Piston chaiman Greg Perez, said they won’t get their hopes up until this is supported by a signed resolution.
“On our part, we are very grateful to the governor for helping us so we can get back on the road. The problem is, it’s only verbal,” Perez said in Cebuano.
He also said the plan of the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 to allow only roadworthy traditional jeepneys to pick up passengers on barangay roads and bring them to designated terminals of buses and mini buses might affect the livelihood of tricycle drivers.
“That’s not okay since we all know that tricycle drivers make their living on interior roads,” he said in Cebuano.
Piston has around 500 members nationwide. Some 300 operate in Cebu Province.
Garcia, through an online press conference held in Barili town on July 20, 2020, announced that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had given his verbal consent to allow public utility vehicles (PUVs), including traditional jeepneys, to operate again in Cebu Province.
Garcia said she had requested the DOTr to lift the current suspension of PUV operation due to the community quarantine, which has been implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Cebu Province and its 42 municipalities and five component cities are on modified general community quarantine. Still on general community quarantine are the towns of Consolacion and Minglanilla and the cities of Talisay and Mandaue.
Eduardo Montealto, LTFRB 7 director, on Tuesday, July 21, said they have not received related instructions yet from their central office as the request is still under evaluation.
Garcia, on Monday, said Tugade told her to send to him the letter requesting to allow PUVs to ply their regular routes again.
The same request will be sent to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Plans to let traditional jeepneys act as feeders within the municipal boundaries are also being discussed.
Montealto said local government units will help determine the number of jeepneys that will get special permits to avoid competing with tricycle drivers.
Aside from roadworthiness, an old model jeepney unit must also be under a fleet management to get a special permit to operate.
Jeepney drivers and operators were advised to form either cooperatives or corporations for easier access to financial institutions for the implementation of loan programs to purchase modernized jeepneys.
Perez, however, said none of their members have consolidated into cooperatives yet.
“If you join a coop, you end up surrendering your franchise,” he said in Cebuano. “For us, the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to phase out our jeepneys,” he added. (WBS)