MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ renowned passenger jeepney was among the earliest casualties of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, together with the authorities imposing a tight lockdown that amuses Manila’s”king of the street” and its tens of thousands of bad drivers.
The constraints imposed three weeks ago barred most public transportation, forcing the gaudily decorated jeepneys off the street.
A lot of those jobless drivers have resorted to begging in the streets, demonstrating cardboard signs bearing pleas for food and money in their jeepneys. “A little help please for us motorists,” one sign said.
At a once-bustling passenger terminal in suburban Quezon town’s Tandang Sora village, roughly 35 drivers have flipped their jeepneys into miniature shelters. They squeezed in cooking stoves, a couple of spare clothing, phone chargers and electrical fans to fight the tropical warmth and mosquitoes in the cramped passenger compartment where they have lived and slept for weeks.
“We don’t have any income today. We’ve got nothing to pay for our kids,” said Jude Recio, a distraught driver with three kids. “I expect we will be permitted to drive .”
Before the outbreak started, jeepneys had been jeopardized by a government plan to modernize public transportation and stage out aging vehicles. The diesel-powered jeepneys which are popular amongst the working class cough out shadowy fumes that have been blamed for Manila’s famously polluted atmosphere.
The jeepneys developed from U.S. army jeeps that American forces left behind after World War II. The vehicles were altered and then were duplicated, many according to a secondhand truck chassis, and also for years were the hottest type of land transport along with also a showcase of culture on wheels.
The modernization program intends to create over jeepneys by enhancing their motors, security and convenience. Several have electric motors and therefore are known as”e-jeeps.” They’re larger, safer and more environmentally friendly, but no more are a head-turning icon.
The authorities eased the lockdown this month to reopen the declining market, permitting newer passenger vehicles to come back to the street under strict quarantine regulations. Nevertheless, the conventional jeepneys remain sidelined.
The motorists at the Tandang Sora terminal have begun sprucing up their jeepneys, trusting they are able to roll back on the roads shortly. But they fear that if they and their jeepneys endure the pandemic, the government’s modernization program will nonetheless bring them .
“The authorities should study this app quite well because we can’t manage the brand new jeeps. A good deal of people may lose their jobs,” Recio said.