By Claudine Complativo

Out of 300 UP jeepneys, 119 were unable to continue operations as the academic year opened after failing to renew their permits from the Office of Community Relations (OCR) — much to the disservice of campus commuters.

To address the problem, the OCR held a second round of inspections this week.

“May order din kami galing kay Vice Chancellor [for Community Affairs] na madaliin dahil nga kulang yung mga jeep natin (We received orders from the Vice-Chancellor [for Community Affairs] to speed up the process because we lack jeepneys),”said Corporal Jaime Marquina, Chairman of the OCR Inspection Team.

These jeepneys failed to pass the first run of inspections from February 1 to April 30 after the addition of an undercarriage requirement, which would keep a vehicle’s supporting framework in check.

Drivers were not able to comply with the new component within the allotted period, thus the lack of jeeps in campus.

Drivers’ dilemma

Jorge Calucab, 62, was among the drivers and operators who went to the OCR on Monday for reinspection.

“[Ang] mali namin e hindi namin agad ibinalik [ang jeep]. Akala namin, walang deadline-deadline (Our mistake was we didn’t return for the inspections immediately. We thought there was no deadline),” he said.

Calucab, who has been driving a UP-Pantranco jeep for almost 40 years, had a hard time passing this year’s inspection.

“I spent 17,000 pesos to have my jeepney fixed. But when I went here (OCR), they didn’t give me a sticker because they said my jeep lacks a guide bumper,” he said in Filipino.

Calucab was against suspending a big number of PUJ operators, for it would affect the drivers as well as the students.

Drivers brought their jeepneys to the Community Affairs compound for reinspection on Monday. PHOTO BY Mariel Urbiztondo, UP Aperture
Drivers bring their jeepneys to the Community Affairs compound for reinspection on Monday. PHOTO BY Mariel Urbiztondo, UP Aperture

“Paano yung mga driver na may pamilya, kawawa naman. Nag-uupa sila ng bahay, may pamilya, walang pagkain (How about the drivers who have families and bills to pay, but have no food to eat?),” Calucab said.

Not a new policy

The OCR said, however, that there was nothing new with the jeepney accreditation process.

“Walang bagong sistema. Ang problema, hindi sila naka-comply kaagad dito sa undercarriage [inspection] (There was no new policy, the problem was they failed the test because of the undercarriage inspection),” Marquina said.

He said the undercarriage inspection has always been a policy—even a requirement— of the OCR and the Land Transportation Office.

The only difference this year, Marquina added, was the addition of the inspection process of the chassis frame and the break and clutch system of the jeepneys.

Marquina explained that the added inspection details were done to ensure the safety of jeepney passengers.

“Marami tayong aksidente sa jeep na involved‘yung ilalim. Noong nakaraan nga, may isang Ikot jeep na muntik nang mahulog sa kanal (We have a lot of accidents invoving the under carriage. Just recently, there was an Ikot jeep that almost fell in the canal),” he said.

Two engine mechanics from the Campus Maintenance Office have also been assigned to check the PUJs.

“This is actually very efficient to maintain the safety of students and commuters. On the part of the jeepney drivers, they would be aware of the possible hazards of their vehicle,” said Erika Isabel Yague, head of the Community Rights and Welfare Committee of the University Student Council.

This year’s strict inspection process was not a move towards removing PUJs inside the campus, said Marquina.

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