By Aurora Quadra-Balibay for Good News Pilipinas, November 10th, 2014
Pinoy Jeepneys, the colourful World War II-style icons known in the country as the King of Philippine roads, have resurfaced in the Visayan wasteland as electric jeepneys (eJeepneys) a year after Tacloban City was hit hard by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
When the typhoon passed through the Visayan Islands southeast of Manila, the diesel-fed jeepneys were flooded by the storm surges with a mixture of salt water, debris and grime that turned 95% of Tacloban City’s public transport unserviceable.
A year into the rebuilding of the city, a fleet of electric Jeepneys (eJeepneys) had risen from the wasteland amid public clamour for dependable public transport. Four eJeepneys redeployed from Metro Manila and a converted storm-damaged multi-cab now service the local commuters. The fleet will be joined soon by two more storm-damaged jeepneys scheduled for rehabilitation to run on solar-powered electricity. Each one was close to ending up as scrap.
The initiative to replace and retrofit storm-damaged jeepneys into solar-powered vehicles is led by the RE-Charge Tacloban project of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), a local non-profit group working on sustainable energy solutions internationally recognized with the top transport solutions prize in a global contest by Ecopolis Program of Discovery Channel in 2009.
iCSC Executive Director Renato Redentor Constantino shared their story with Good News Pilipinas, “We look at the vehicles as symbols of Tacloban – from rubble it can rise again, more benign, better.
It was an opportunity to contribute to the notion that we can build back better – and brighter, by integrating solar with sustainable transport.”
The RE-Charge Tacloban eJeepneys run on batteries charged by a solar facility also set up by the group. The facility uses a hybrid off-grid solar photovoltaic system with battery backup and grid-tie capability that is connected to the geothermal-powered Leyte grid.
Constantino asserts that the initiative is about providing sustainable jobs and encouraging government and the private sector to answer climate change challenges and not only technical fixes as “sustainable strategies that ultimately make us more resilient.”
RE-charge Tacloban not only recasts storm-damaged vehicles into eJeepneys, as it combines the vehicles with training programs for local drivers, dispatchers, operators, administrators and technicians in the servicing and maintenance of both the eJeepney fleet and the solar facilities.#