Being “poor” does not exempt jeepney drivers from complying to road safety standards

Opposition and left-leaning “activists” are up in arms over a photo of what is said to be a list of requirements jeepney drivers need to meet in order to comply with government efforts to improve the quality of public transport and air quality in major Philippine cities.

Jeepneys are 1940s-vintage design vehicles and remain a primary means of public transport in the Philippines. Many of these are cobbled together from reconditioned used and surplus parts and, as such, will likely not comply with even the most basic globally-accepted roadworthiness standards for motor vehicles.

Activists are outraged over basic safety measures required of public jeepneys.

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The purported list included, among other things, requirements that seat belts, fire extinguishers, and hand brakes to be installed and that all external lights and indicator lamps are functional — including switching of low and high beams for headlights. Still other requirements were seemingly meant to ensure vehicles were generally presentable and laid out for utility — possibly to reduce the garishness in design jeepneys have long been infamous for. A particularly important requirement spelt out in the list is that the chassis should show no evidence of being welded together or extended in length. This is important considering that the chassis is the structural backbone of any motor vehicle and the single biggest factor that contributes to vehicle handling, stability, and safety.

All of the above come across as pretty reasonable requirements specially considering that these are requirements for public utility vehicles where safety is of paramount importance. Yet Opposition “activists” are claiming that these requirements put a serious burden on “poor” jeepney drivers who depend on the current clunky vehicles for their livelihoods. This is essentially asking that a lower-standard set of requirements be applied to “poor” vehicle owners and operators and that world-class standards be applied only to more affluent motorists. This is ludicrous, to say the least.

It seems that it didn’t occur to these people that the public also depend on safe public transport for their livelihoods. Government vehicles and, specially, public utility vehicles should serve as models that the private sector could be held to. In the Philippines, at present, it is the other way around in the usual Bizarro way the country operates. Government and public utility vehicles are often the first to violate safety and roadworthiness standards while many safety initiatives are led by private sector proponents.

The reason the poor continue to think like poor people is because of “activists” who insist that they be subject to mere pwede-na-yan standards and not the excellent world-class standards that truly prosperous people aspire to meet. The jeepney problem has long ago passed any opportunity to be phased out in the softly-softly manner so-called “pro-poor” partisans espouse. Metro Manila is in crisis situation and, like a tooth that had been allowed to abscess and is causing intolerable pain, jeepneys should be pulled out unceremoniously and tossed into history’s crapper. Perhaps if Filipinos had not sat on the problem for decades and allowed it to fester to the monstrous proportions seen today, the jeepney problem could have been solved more “humanely”. Unfortunately, we are at a point where it just simply needs to be put out of its misery.

19 Replies to “Being “poor” does not exempt jeepney drivers from complying to road safety standards”

  1. Being poor has been one of the greatest excuses to do wrong. They should understand that being oppressed doesn’t give the right to oppress back.

  2. As a commuting passenger of this obsolete transport system. These stupid activists, should also think of the passengers. Any unsafe, and obsolete transport system will endanger the life and well being of any passenger, also.

    The Philippine Jeepney was made from the U.S. Army vehicles, liberating the Philippines, in World War II. It was designed and manufactured by Chrysler Corporation, of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. in the 1940s. Gasoline was cheap, then; so this vehicle is a gas guzzler. Its parts are obsolete; available only from junk shop materials. Its design is unsafe , in our modern Highway condition.

    In this Age of Autonomous vehicles, or the “driverless car”; and, Fuel injection vehicles, with safety utilities. The Philippine Jeepney is a “rolling coffin”, unsafe for the driver and the

    1. I wish if Elon Musk’s Tesla Corporation should invest here in our country & build an e-jeepney for his company & give it to the Filipino jeepney drivers & sell it in an affordable price but due to the restriction of foreign ownership mandated by our current & unsystematic Constitution & we really don’t know if the Filipino jeepney drivers will embrace & use this eco-friendly, high tech, high quality & very safe Tesla e-jeepneys, if not then its useless. 🙁

  3. It would probably help if the BOC didn’t make it next-to-impossible to import proper PSVs from countries renowned for making them. Making those custom vehicles doesn’t just result in a sub-standard product, it’s extremely expensive. For the price of one of those deathtraps (I’m talking of total lifetime cost, not just cost of construction) you could operate a state-of-the-art minibus from DAF or an electric tram from Siemens. Same applies to tricycles: you can buy a high-quality, mass-produced electric version for less than the cost of a motorcycle+sidecar.

    Filipinos do things the hard way partly because they’re not allowed to do anything else.

  4. @benignO
    If your wish will be granted, what realistic changes do you expect to happen exactly?

    Considering it’s still the driver and not the vehicle, will the phase out of jeepneys change people’s attitudes on road usage? Will it prevent accidents on the streets?

    Will we see a reverse trend in the ratio of more private cars with only one or two people riding inside against less public transport with a greater number of commuters using our public roads and highways?

    Aside from the upgrade of being presentable with modern features of new e-vehicles, will they be a game-changer as far as the state of metropolitan traffic is concern? Is the upgrade of being presentable with modern features of the alternative, the only end objective?

    Without a proper alternative mass transport system suited for the times (that will effect the jeepneys natural demise), most affected commuting public will have no recourse but to continue to rely on these old but affordable public transport mostly hated by car owners.

    1. Of course phase out of jeepneys should be in conjunction with the implementation of more modern transport networks — specifically one that is based on route traffic balancing and scheduling. The point I highlight in the latter is that it does not really matter what vehicle is used to replace jeepneys so long as their deployment and the governing of their operation is based on a broad network model that allows optimal routing and deployment of assets.

      As you point out, obviously the sorts of drivers we have today are absolutely inappropriate for that sort of system — because they are unskilled loutish drivers who are not deserving of their professional-grade drivers’ licenses.

      Design and implementation of a replacement to jeepneys should follow an approach based on a clear understanding of the systemic challenge and goals, which means as many of the elements of the system should be taken into account.

      For now, at the very least, the law governing roadworthiness and appropriate behaviour on the road needs to be enforced. If Filipinos cannot even uphold that, what hope is there that they will step up to the bigger challenge of implementing a modern road-based public transport system?

    2. The modern jeep cooperative in our place is already better organized and scheduled compared to the wait-anywhere-anytime-every-corner old school jeeps. They even have a systematic means of transferring passengers vs oldies that would just drop you off anywhere if you’re the only passenger left.

  5. Being poor, or just plain stupid and astonishingly arrogant! Putting such people in charge of owning or driving a potentially lethal weapon simply isn’t a good idea. Not just with respect to jeepneys, but most male drivers/riders here.

    We have written laws to regulate road standards, but unfortunately those tasked with enforcing them are completely hopeless, useless & incompetent twits. And they’re often the main culprits for breaking the laws they’re paid to enforce. For example, on motorbikes – should have mirrors, working lights, clearly visible license plate, helmets, don’t overtake on the inside/corners/bridges, don’t speed up when being overtaken, don’t be a damnable moron. Law enforcement, in it’s many self promoting forms, have no intention of enforcing these laws because they enjoy breaking them themselves. Hence the total lack of respect they garner. So why bother wasting time debating and writing down laws – why bother employing law enforcement – why bother pretending to be a modern democracy cos nothing is further from the truth…

  6. “Walang puso! Walang malasakit! Walang konsiderasyon! Ibagsak ang kapitalistang imperyalistang pasistang diktadurang US-Duterte na nagpapahirap sa taong bayan!!!”

    Sure, make my day. This is probably one reason why someone is proposing to wipe out the word “love” in the the proposed Federal-PH Constitution preamble.

  7. It’s 2018, people have been to the moon and back, and here we are refusing to evolve, in the name of poverty and pity. Might as well go back to the caves.

  8. The glaring truth is, there is a culture and technology mismatch. The average Pinoy now can’t even make sense of simple rules- why or how they apply. It’s that sort of problem where the error is in the fundamentals, and then you wonder why you can’t make the g*damn thing work. The culture really needs to reconfigure.

    1. I completely agree with that. Filipinos have adopted a lot of technology that they never developed by themselves and fundamentally don’t understand. That’s true of ideas (eg., ‘democracy’, or ‘law’) as it is of mechanical things.

      There is a lot of research on transplanted technology causing unintended side effects: something similar happened to China in the 1970s-1980s, but they made a big effort to understand and adapt (40 years later, they’ve more-or-less figured it out). Filipinos … didn’t.

  9. It is simple. Filipinos have choices. Either they ride on jeepney or taxi. They have choices which one they prefer. It remains to be a competition in a free market of transportation. But jeepney’s fare is cheap and many Filipinos are poor so they prefer to ride on jeepney over taxi without second thought on safety. Overall, it is the fault of the government for allowing jeepneys to remain on streets up to this day because only them have the power and resources to change this. Just like your articles, many gather here to favor your articles eventhough they know they are one-sided because their sentiments are the same with you. And because the system of government allows this too.

    1. Just like your articles, many gather here to favor your articles eventhough they know they are one-sided because their sentiments are the same with you.

      You’re already shooting on your own foot with your kind of statement. Read between the lines next time before you make assumptions.

  10. YES, jeepney drivers MUST comply with the requirements for road safety regulations however poor they are!! “Ths is NOT Europe or America” they may rebut, but life in the Philippines is THE SAME as life anywhere else in the world. We all value safety in travelling wherever you may be.

    If they cannot afford the cost at all in complying with the safety road and health requirements, we suggest they find another cheaper trade, but we cannot sacrifice people safety.

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