Most PUV drivers can’t afford modern vehicles–labor group

In File Photo: A driver fixes his jeepney along a street in Manila where many jeepneys are parked, taking advantage of the transport strike nationwide that crippled some areas, including in Metro Manila.

A MILITANT labor group said many public-utility vehicles (PUV) drivers will simply not be able to afford the government’s modernization programs.

In a statement, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Executive Vice Chairman Lito Ustarez said PUV drivers, particularly those of jeepneys, do not earn enough to pay for new state-of-the-art vehicles being offered by the government.

Citing data from the Pinag-isang Lakas ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), he said jeepney drivers and operators earn an average of P500 to P600 daily.

“Top-of-the-line jeepneys today reportedly cost about P600,000 to P700,000  or $11,000 to $13,000. The new model the government wants drivers and operators to buy costs P1.6 million to P 1.8 million, or between $30,000 and $35,000,” Ustarez pointed out.

Currently, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) does not include jeepney drivers in its regular Occupational Wages Survey (OWS) and thus has no data on their average monthly income.

The OWS only covers establishments with 20 or more workers.

To comply with the mandatory modernization program, Ustarez said PUV drivers will be forced to pass on their additional costs to consumers.

“A jeepney phaseout will most definitely also affect commuters,” Ustarez said.

On Monday, major transports groups held another nationwide protest to oppose the phaseout of old jeepneys and UV express units, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.

KMU supported the demonstration, saying it will benefit commuters in the long run.

“If the Duterte government succeeds in phasing out the current PUVs, and transfers the ownership to big local businessmen and foreign investors, the fare hike of PUVs will continue unabated,” Ustarez said.

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