PUV modernization should focus on people, not machines
Our group has been at the forefront in pushing for PUV modernization for over a decade now, spanning three administrations. We believe that it is only through modernization that poverty alleviation can be achieved in the transport sector.
After all these years, it is only recently that we have made clear headway brought about by the political will of the incumbent leadership and perfect timing that this is not an election year.
But I fear we will miss out on the great opportunity of truly transforming our wheel-based public transport system.
Most of the articles I have read and interviews I have heard focused on the vehicle, fleet management system, environment, passenger convenience, and at times, income of the drivers.
Government funds, in the billions, have been allotted for the purchase of the vehicles, but not a single centavo has been set aside, nor is there any requirement, for the training and value formation of the drivers, mechanics and transport leaders who will be managing the entire system.
Our experience tells us that the training and value formation of the people behind the industry are integral to modernization, and even more important than purchasing the vehicle itself. The vehicle is only brand new for one day if it is not driven and maintained properly.
This is the more difficult part of modernization. Admittedly, this cannot be done overnight. This is a work in progress. But, if we continue to focus simply on the vehicle and not address this head-on and fail to put our money where our mouth is, then all these exercise may go to waste. All these new vehicles will become old and dilapidated bringing us back to square one. The modernization we were fighting for over a decade ago will not be achieved and transport workers will be back to their impoverished life.
To avoid this, we propose the following:
- Funds be made available for training, not only of drivers, but also of mechanics and those who will manage the system. An initial fund of P240 million will be enough to train 4,000 transport leaders to be good managers;
- A school for excellence connected with and run by educational institutions should be set up for this purpose.
- Loans for vehicle acquisition should be tied up with mandatory training. The people who run the business must show that they have gone through and have put in place a training program for their workers.
- Vehicle suppliers must be mandated to put together a training program.
Much has been said about the positive effects of PUV modernization. Once fully achieved, hands down, the positive effects on traffic, environment and daily lives of commuters outweigh the investment made on training.
At the end of the day, we believe that modernization can truly be achieved if we focus more on the people who will run the show, and less on the machines behind it.
VIGOR MENDOZA II,
Chair, Kilusan sa Pagbabago ng Industriya ng Transportasyon, [email protected]
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