By Anna Liza Villas-Alavaren
Traffic and transport officials said contingency measures would be in place to counter the effects of the transport strike on December 4 and 5.
But at the same time the officials appealed to transport strikers to open their minds why the government is pushing for the jeepney modernization program.
Jojo Garcia, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) assistant general manager for planning, assured the riding public of available passenger buses to be deployed in different staging areas in Metro Manila.
“We will field a number of government and private vehicles to ferry commuters who may be stranded because of the strike,” said Garcia.
Staging areas will be set up at SM Marikina, Luneta Parade Ground in Manila, HK Town Plaza in Pasay City, Technohub and Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, and MMDA parking area in Makati City.
Like in previous rallies, the Metrobase Command Center will monitor road activities that may be affected by the strike.
“As early as 4 a.m., representatives from member agencies of the JQRT (Joint Quick Response Team) will be at the Metrobase to monitor,” said Garcia.
The JQRT team includes the MMDA, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Transportation, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Public Works and Highways, Office of Transport Security, Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board and Philippine National Police.
Garcia said it is the Malacanang’s call whether to suspend classes or government work during the fourth strike of the transport group Piston, with No To Jeepney Phaseout Coalition (NTJPOC).
“On our end, we are ready to assist the public, particularly (with repect to) management of traffic flow in the metropolis,” said Garcia.
Days before the nationwide coordinated strike, MMDA general manager Tim Orbos reminded transport strikers why the government is working for the public utility vehicle modernization project (PUVMP).
“It’s all about the commuters. We need to finally give respect to our commuters and provide public transport that dignifies the riding public by giving them safe, convenient and efficient public transport,” said Orbos, concurrent DOT undersecretary for road and infrastructure.
He also called on protesters to put the interest of the riding public at front and center.
“It is high time for them stop prioritizing their own interests, and start considering the interest of the riding public which, for the longest time, has been clamoring for a safe, convenient and environment-friendly system of public transport,” Orbos said.
Earlier, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told jeepney operators that as holders of franchises, they have a responsibility to the public.
Tugade instructed the LTFRB and LTO to pursue the cancellation of the franchises and licenses of the PUV operators and drivers who would join the planned transport strike on December 4 and 5.
“We have invited PISTON to dialogues, but still they insisted on holding strikes. Other transport groups sat down with us and we discussed the program together. Why can’t PISTON do that? I am positive that when they do, they will understand and they will agree that it is time to overhaul the public transportation system,” said Tugade.
Tugade said the modernization project is aimed at upgrading the fleet of jeepneys, not phasing them out.
With the exception of PISTON, the PUVMP has gained the overwhelming support of different public transport groups.
Among them are the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP), Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations (ACTO), Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila and Suburb Drivers Association Nationwide Inc., (PASANG MASDA), Land Transportation Organization of the Philippines (LTOP), Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (ALTODAP), and an overwhelmingly majority of provincial transport cooperatives all over the country.
Tags: Department of Transportation, jeepney modernization, jeepney phaseout, Manila Bulletin, Measures to counter transport strike in place MMDA tells commuters, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), PASANG MASDA, PISTON
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