A GROUP of public utility jeepney drivers and operators in Metro Cebu warned of more transport strikes if the National Government won't drop its plan to phase out jeepneys 15 years old and above.

Greg Perez, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston) Cebu coordinator, claimed that yesterday's strike paralyzed 80 percent of the jeepney routes in Metro Cebu.

Piston, which has 11,000 members nationwide, also opposes the government's requirement for operators to have at least 10 vehicles and to have a minimum capital of P7 million to keep their franchises.

“We will try our best to reach our goal of stopping all these,” said Perez in Cebuano.

Piston held a picket outside the office of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 yesterday afternoon to air their sentiments.

Perez believes that the government is helping big corporations take control of the transport sector in the guise of modernizing jeepneys instead of helping the small operators.

He said the government should recognize the contribution that jeepneeys have made to the public and support this mode of transportation by establishing more garages for them and ensuring affordable rates for vehicle spare parts.

Piston handed to LTFRB 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon a copy of their letter, opposing the plans.

Cuizon, though, belied the claim of Piston that yesterday's transport strike paralyzed 80 percent of jeepney routes in Cebu.

“Ang mga sakyanan nibyahe gyud (Many of the jeepneys were running),” he said.

Cuizon said the activity only affected 20 percent of the routes, but it was cushioned by the provision of buses by the LTFRB and local government units.

LTFRB had issued special permits to 30 Ceres buses, 20 of which were fielded in Cebu City, five in Lapu-Lapu City and five in Mandaue City.

Cuizon assured Piston that their concerns will be forwarded to their central office in Manila.

He said there is no order yet to phase out 15-year-old jeepneys and above.

Cuizon pointed out that the Cebu Integrated Transport Service Multipurpose Cooperative and the National Confederation of Transportworkers Union, among others, are supportive of the move, but they want the implementation to be gradual, or from January 2018 until 2026.

The groups said that what they are against is the move mandating the replacement of existing jeepneys with new and imported electric jeepneys because these are “costly” and “expensive.”

They asked the government to hold more consultations with the transport sector in the modernization of the public transport system.