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‘Traditional’ COVID-adapted PUJs back on Metro roads

MANILA, Philippines — Traditional jeepneys resumed operations yesterday in Metro Manila after months of lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, with most drivers complying with the guidelines despite complaints from transport groups.

Transport groups hit the apparent lack of clear guidance from the government.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) approved the resumption of operations of over 6,000 traditional jeepneys on 49 routes in the metropolis.

More than 50,000 jeepneys transported commuters around the metropolis before the lockdown started last March.

Efren de Luna, head of the Alliance of Concerned Transport Operators, said their drivers were confused on the pronouncements by the LTFRB on who are allowed to operate under the general community quarantine (GCQ).

“The first day they set for the return of 6,000 traditional jeeps was marred by lack of a system,” he said in Filipino.

De Luna said only few jeepneys resumed their operation due to confusing statements by the LTFRB, especially on the issuance of QR codes instead of special permits.

Through the QR code, drivers and operators were given an easier option so that they would not have to go to the LTFRB, thereby avoiding face-to-face transactions.?The QR codes must be downloaded and displayed on the jeepney units to serve as special permits for their operations.?However, as earlier announced by the LTFRB, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said roadworthy traditional jeepneys without QR code would not be apprehended until Sunday as the migration of LTFRB website is ongoing.?Mody Floranda, national president of Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), said operators and drivers were left to make their own innovation without government guidelines.

Under the new guidelines, drivers and operators are mandated to ensure safety protocols inside their vehicles, including setting up dividers to practice social distancing among passengers.

The LTFRB rejected any fare hike for public transport vehicles despite limiting operations to 50 percent of normal capacity.

Libiran said most drivers and operators cooperated with the guidelines.?Libiran, however, said there are also some drivers “who are really hardheaded.”

She said enforcers were on the ground to make sure that jeepneys observed health protocols.?“The guidelines are easy to observe. It says that traditional jeepneys will be allowed to operate in authorized routes provided that units are currently registered roadworthy with the LTO, and units have valid personal passenger insurance policy,” Libiran said.

MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Garcia said drivers and passengers should also wear face masks. Richmond Mercurio, Ghio Ong, Emmanuel Tupas, Ralph Villanueva, Ray Galupo

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