Saturday, February 25, 2017

BREAKING: Nationwide transport strike for Jeepneys all set for Monday!

A nationwide transportation strike has been set for Monday, Feb. 27, by a coalition of transport groups aiming to stop the government modernization plan to phase out 15-year-old and older public utility jeepneys and replace them with modern and environment-friendly vehicles.

The “No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition,” headed by the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), announced that they will stage the transport holiday on Monday.

The group, in a statement, claimed that the “Jeepney phaseout is cloaked with the words ‘modernization,’ ‘route rationalization,’ and other proponents of the Traffic Emergency Power being pushed in the Congress.”

The group also criticized the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for always reiterating that “they will simply replace old units with new ones…when they ask too many requirements.”

PISTON president and “No to Jeepney Phaseout Coalition” convenor George San Mateo said the protest will be participated by its members in Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, and Cavite.

“I think we can muster at least 80 percent of drivers in Metro Manila,” he said in an interview.

He said affected cities will be: Caloocan, Quezon City, Manila, Marikina, Pasig, Taguig, Makati, Parañaque, Pasay and Las Piñas.

Also expected to join will be the coalition’s members in Cagayan Valley, Baguio, Laguna, Bicol, Iloilo, Capiz, Bacolod, Cebu, Leyte, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, and General Santos are also expected to join, he added.

“We appeal to commuters not to go to work so they will not be inconvenienced,” San Mateo said.

The “Stop and Go Coalition” also staged a transport holiday last Feb. 6 and also to protest the modernization plan.

  Also in Cebu

In Cebu City, about 700 public utility jeepney (PUJ) drivers are expected to join the nationwide transport strike on Monday, which is also forecast to cripple 80 percent of the Cebu City’s transport system.

The drivers are members of PISTON Cebu although other transport groups here still have not decided on whether to join the strike or not.

Greg Perez, coordinator of PISTON Cebu, said his group has decided to join the transport strike to also express their stand on the same issue of the government plan to phase out PUJs that have been in operation for more than 15 years.

Perez said 700 members of PISTON Cebu will be joining the strike, which he said should affect 80 percent of the city’s transport system.

Other transport groups, including the Cebu Integrated Transport Cooperative (Citrasco), National Confederation of Transport Workers Union (NCTU) and Visayan United Drivers Transport Service, were set to meet today to decide whether to join the strike on Monday or not.

Perez said the transport strike will start at 4 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. on Monday.

New e-jeeps

Meanwhile, LTFRB board member Atty. Aileen Lizada lashed out at PISTON for “misinforming” their members about the government’s modernization plan.

“Have an open mind. Stop saying the wrong information (to your members),” she said.

Lizada repeated that the modernization program only seeks to “level-up the type of jeepneys we have on the road.” She also assured that their agency “is looking for ways to help drivers in buying new e(lectronic)-jeeps.”

“Jeepneys are here to stay…The LTFRB will fight for it….The question is, what kind of jeep? That’s what the government is working on — a safe, dependable and reliable jeepney,” she said.

Prepared for strike

Lizada said they are prepared for Monday’s strike, doubling the number of buses who will transport stranded commuters.

“(We expect) 150 to 200 buses. We have identified the routes of PISTON and Stop and Go,” she told the Manila Bulletin/Tempo.

She added that government vehicles will also be deployed to give free rides to affected commuters.

Lizada warned that the agency will cancel the franchises of those who will join the protest, on the grounds of violating the LTFRB’s regulations.

Cebu City plan

The Cebu City government has already mapped out plans to ensure that the commuting public will not be inconvenienced during the transport strike.

Francisco Ouano, operations chief of the Cebu City Transportation Office, said the city will deploy 12 Kaoshiung buses to transport commuters from one place to another.

Ouano also urged the drivers to take action through the legal process should they have complaints against policies.

LTFRB 7 director Ahmed Cuizon also urged the transport group PISTON not to join the nationwide strike.




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