Ironically, in the third world, in rural areas a lot of the “green” technology is actually either too expensive, too complicated or unavailable.

But recently, the Electronic Jeepney AKA E-Jeepney, has been introduced into Makati, a suburb of Manila, with the help of GRIPP and Greenpeace:

The campaign is part of GRIPP’s Climate Friendly Cities Project, a multi-pronged program for mitigating climate change that promotes transport and waste management initiatives through renewable energy-based technology.

“The e-jeepneys aim to demonstrate that there are climate-friendly alternatives to the current polluting modes of public transportation in the Philippines,” said Athena Ronquillo, GRIPP chair and lead proponent of the e-jeepney initiative.

“The iconic jeepney remains but without wasteful and carbon emitting diesel, and while providing increased incomes to the vehicles’ drivers,” she added.

The original Jeepney is a symbol of the Philippines. It originated when locals took surplus World War II jeeps, elongated them, decorated them, and used them to haul family, passengers and produce.

Nowadays, most families have switched to vans and intercity passengers often prefer air conditioned buses. But jeepneys are still used here in the provinces, jeepneys are a cheaper and more frequent way to travel between cities or to Manila. But in the larger cities, the Jeepneys still ply their trade as bus alternatives.

But jeepneys are not fuel efficient, and as pollution levels in Philippine cities rise, there is a need for a clean alternative.

There are problems with the electric jeepney which are made in China: They are slow, have limited range, and require a long time to recharge their batteries. The buying price is steep, albeit no steeper than a new “jeepney”. However, most jeepneys are owned by small families who buy them used, and without a government program these families will be unable to replace their older jeepnies with the newer version.

Another problem is red tape: they don’t have all the little things needed according to previous standards, like rear view mirrors and seat belts.

In summary, I welcome this small step to improve the air quality of Manila.

But what is needed here in the provinces is a cheap electric alternative to our  source of local transportation: the lowly tricycle, a motorcycle with a side car.

These are used for short trips, and often used to take kids to school or housewives to the Palenke, and in the villages may carrry bags of rice for the farmers who lack trucks.

The bad news is that with all our blackouts, a reliable 2 cyclinder diesel engine is still more reliable than a battery powered motorcycle.

Oh well, one thing at a time…

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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