JEEPNEY REBIRTH

SIMON CLARK has been to the Philippines to see these once iconic small vehicles in operation and describes plans for a major overhaul in the way they are owned, operated and managed — and hopes that lessons learned eight years ago in Malta are heeded before implementing such radical change to people’s lives

Multi-coloured faded fiesta on wheels, with a uniformed traffic director/enforcer. This is Valenzuela City in the afternoon peak.

Leonardo Sarao designed the first Jeepney. Not the first Jeep; that was an American design and when the United States military pulled out of the Philippines at the end of World War 2, many Jeeps were surplus to requirements and scattered over the islands.

The US donated or sold them to the Filipinos, who following Sarao’s lead adapted them to carry people. With the addition of a metal roof and a rearward extension of the body, the installation of longitudinal seating and maybe a route board, the Jeepney was born, looking like a fancy Jeep. But it was early days.

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