Jeepney drivers seek faster cash aid release almost 2 months into COVID-19 lockdown


Posted at May 05 2020 09:30 AM

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Transport leaders urged the government on Tuesday to hasten the release of cash aid to jeepney drivers who have lost their income in the nearly 2-month long lockdown of Metro Manila and other areas at high risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The transportation department should help the social welfare agency check records to speed up the aid distribution to drivers who had been unable to ply roads due to the lockdown, said both Zeny Maranan, president of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Pasang Masda president Obet Martin.

"Kaawa-awa naman kaming mga driver. Alam naman ninyong 'pag hindi kumayod, walang kita," Martin told DZMM.

"Hihingin ko lang po sana kay Kalihim [Rolando] Bautista ng DSWD na kung pupuwede ipa-expedite ang pag-release ng amelioration sa mga driver sapagkat magtu-2 months na po kaming nakanganga. Mayroon naman pong natatanggap sa mga city government... pero kulang pa rin po iyon," he added.

(Drivers like us suffer. You know that if we don't work, we won't earn. I am asking Secretary Bautista of the DSWD to expedite the release of amelioration to drivers, if possible, because we have been waiting for almost 2 months. There is aid from the city governments, but that is still not enough.)

Some drivers have started putting plastic dividers to maintain physical distancing among passengers in preparation for when government allows jeepney trips to resume, said Maranan.

"Ang social distancing magagawa namin... kahit na kalahati lang ang maisasakay namin," she said.

(We can do social distancing, even if that means our number of passengers will be halved.)

"Sana iyong mga lugar na hindi naman talaga grabe [ang COVID cases] at papayagan na nga nilang makalabas ang mga sasakyan, isama naman nila kaming mga jeepney," she added.

(I hope that in areas with few COVID cases and will allow other vehicles, jeepneys can be included.)

There are only about 5,000 modernized and air-conditioned jeepneys, mostly in Taguig and Tanay, Rizal, which may not be enough to ferry passengers once the lockdown is relaxed in some areas, she said.

Jeepneys will maintain their current fare rates if crude prices do not spike, Maranan said.

DZMM, May 5, 2020