By Floro L. Mercene
The entire planet is switching over to electric cars and hybrids but here we’re as Third World as ever, never wanting to part with our 70-year-old derelict, the jeepney.
Major American, European, and Japanese car makers are abandoning gasoline and diesel-engine cars, in lieu of electric vehicles (EV), which is expected to be replaced a few years down the road.
In the Philippines, the offer of the administration to replace the dilapidated homegrown dinosaur of a vehicle is being opposed by jeepney operators and personal owners.
A primary issue with owning EVs, in general, is still the prohibitive cost.
But the government led by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is forging ahead with the PUV Modernization Plan, alternatively called the Eco-PUV program.
Jeepney operators and drivers claim they can not afford the cost of a replacement, estimated at more than a million pesos.
Transport groups Stop and Go Coalition and Piston (Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide) said they support rehabilitation of the public utility vehicle sector but oppose a phaseout of the jeepney.
They claim that the modernization plan is anti-poor since small operators and drivers cannot afford to take on new loans to buy new vehicles.
To make the PUV modernization palatable, the government promised P1.5 billion in financial assistance so transport cooperatives and corporations can upgrade their fleets.
Maybe the government can soften the impact on the poor if they lower the price of the electric cehicle.
Under the government’s modernization program, old jeepneys — those older than 15 years — will be replaced by electric-powered or Euro-4 compliant vehicles.
Other proposed specifications for the improved public vehicles include closed-circuit television cameras, a GPS navigation system, automatic fare collection system, dash cameras, and Wi-Fi.
The PUV modernization program wants high-quality transport systems that are environment-friendly and have greater capacity.
But enough of the justification.
“Just do it,” as the Nike advert boldly advised.
Countries that are weaning themselves away from fossil-fueled vehicles are China, India, Norway, The Netherlands, France, and Germany.
China and Germany said they will ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in 10 years.