If all Cebu-based transport groups would join the seven-day strike starting Monday, March 6, 2023, against the phaseout of traditional jeepneys, two scenarios could happen—either the public transport could come to a halt, resulting in commuters being stranded in the streets or there would be no problem as the local Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board leadership has said that there are already thousands of modernized jeepneys plying Metro Cebu streets.
For the sake of students and employees who commute daily and other people who do not own a vehicle, it is better for local transport groups not to join the strike, which a Manila-based group euphemistically referred to as a “transport holiday.” Traditional jeepney drivers must also think of their families who depend on their daily earnings.
Staging a transport strike is not the solution to the groups’ concerns. It only complicates matters. The traditional jeepney drivers’ image in the commuting public’s eyes would be that of a super-villain.
Transport groups are against the phaseout set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on June 30. But after the transport strike announcement, the DOTr said on Wednesday, March 1 that it will extend the deadline for operators to form a cooperative or corporation until Dec. 31 this year.
However, the nine-month deadline could still not be enough for transport operators.
The government has to consider the adverse effects of the pandemic and the ongoing Russia’s war in Ukraine on the Philippine economy.
The DOTr should consider extending its deadline until next year, by 12 months or Feb. 29, 2024. Giving traditional jeepney operators another year to form cooperatives would be enough. By that time, hopefully the country’s economy will be better than today with inflation at a comfortable level and gas prices stable.
If the traditional jeepney operators would still not form a cooperative or corporation, then they are into something else.
There is a need to replace traditional jeepneys because they are not safe to the commuting public and environment because most of them are old and poorly maintained.
Holding a transport strike, even if it is done every day, would not prevent a future without the presence of inefficient traditional jeepneys.