PINOY JEEPNEY TO INVADE PAPUA, NEW GUINEA SOON

MANILA, August 20, 2003 (STAR)  By Rainier Allan Ronda - Today the streets of Manila. Tomorrow the world.

The King of Philippine roads will soon be exported wholesale to Papua New Guinea, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said yesterday.

Undersecretary Arturo Valdez of the DOTC said talks between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea to import locally made jeepneys have been going well and are now on the second stage.

Valdez revealed that the DOTC and the Department of Foreign Affairs are in the midst of negotiations with their New Guinea counterparts.

Papua New Guinea wants to make the jeepney its main mode of public transport instead of the mini-buses and closed vans they have expensively imported from other countries, Valdez said.

"Currently, they are importing very expensive vehicles for their public transport. They found out that our jeepneys would be more convenient for them aside from the fact that our jeepneys are proven rough-road insensitive," he said.

Valdez said that our jeepneys are obviously cheaper than the mini-buses and the closed vans they are importing.

Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano said that the Melanesian island was looking to import an initial 4,000 units.

"Probably this is the first time we will export our own locally produced vehicles," he said.

Transport officials however told The STAR that the imminent importation of locally manufactured jeepneys to Papua New Guinea would make it the second foray of the jeep to foreign shores.

The sources said that Vietnam was granted by the Philippines a "donation" of hundreds of used jeepneys several years ago to help alleviate their public transport problem.

Regarded as a developing country like the Philippines, Papua New Guinea is known for its poor rural road conditions and almost nonexistent public transport safety as described by US consular officials to citizens wanting to go there.

The terrain and conditions would thus be ideal for the rough and tumble jeep to help Papua New Guinea on its upward economic path, what with the recent boom in oil and mining in the island.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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