A clean slate: Community starts over fresh in the New Year

By Charles Buban February 18,2015
TO START the New Year right, one barangay in Palo, Leyte, will utilize zero-emission Züm e-trikes as its main mode of transport.

To start the New Year right, one barangay in Palo, Leyte, will utilize zero-emission Züm e-trikes as its main mode of transport.

For a “Yolanda”-stricken community in Palo, Leyte, the group taking charge of its rebuilding has taken steps in the right direction—providing electric-powered tricycles as a respectable and sustainable means of livelihood to several of its families.

In partnership with Don Bosco Direct (Disaster Intervention and Emergency Response Coordination Team), EMotors Inc. delivered this month a fleet of ZüM electric tricycles (e-trikes) to select members of a multipurpose cooperative, whose members consist of farmers and fishermen of Barangay (village) Candahug in Palo, Leyte.

EMotors was chosen by foreign donors to supply the e-trikes as a livelihood requirements of the barangay.
It should be noted that based on the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction framework essentials for making disaster-stricken cities resilient, the needs of the affected population must be placed in the center of reconstruction with the rebuilding of homes and the restoration of livelihood, hence the supply of e-trikes.

“Since the devastating typhoon struck in November 2013, ongoing restoration and rebuilding continues but the equally important component of livelihood restoration is yet to be fully met,” said Elizabeth Lee, president of EMotors, a 100-percent Filipino-owned manufacturer and assembler of ZüM e-trikes. The company is registered with the Board of Investment’s Motor Vehicle Development Program.

Strong message

“Barangay Candahug is a fishing and farming community with a population of less than 2,000. It is the first barangay after the boundary of Tacloban City and one that was the worst hit out of the six coastal barangays of Palo, Leyte. The ZüM e-trikes as a means of livelihood sends a strong message of encouragement and hope to earnest Filipinos who are now struggling to find their place given the devastating circumstances the catastrophic storm left behind,”  Lee said.

The new owners and operators were given training on the e-trike’s usage and maintenance. These ZüM e-trikes will not only be utilized as a means of livelihood but also as a means to restore the community’s transport needs.

“We are privileged to be part of the community’s future as we mark another milestone in our goal to serve the needs of Filipinos for an affordable, low maintenance, innovative and easy to use vehicle, one that helps increase one’s income while at the same time, help clean our air,” Lee said.

It should be remembered that when Yolanda struck the area, homes as well as tricycles—one of the sources of livelihood in the area—were swept away if not completely destroyed.

One big step

“There is still much to be done,” said Vic Gocela, deputy coordinator for Don Bosco Direct. “The arrival of the e-trikes may seem like a small step for the recipient drivers and operators, but it symbolizes one big step for the whole community. It gives inspiration and a ray of hope for many of our fellow Filipinos there.”

Lee and Gocela believed that the use of zero-emission ZüM e-trikes as a means of livelihood provides an opportunity for the community to start from “clean slate.”

The main mode of transportation used in Leyte, like in most parts of the Philippines is the gasoline-fed tricycles. Unfortunately, it is not only a noise pollutant but also a significant source of smog-forming hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen, as well as the toxic air pollutant carbon monoxide.

According to Lee, using the ZüM e-trikes allows the drivers/operators to accomplish three things:
• allows the drivers to feed their families and earn a decent living with a higher income above and beyond what they could earn using a gasoline-fed tricycle;
• provides the much needed transportation in the area; and
• helps address the global issue of climate change mitigation in the process, by lessening carbon footprint.

“The ZüM e-trike drivers and operators as well as the community at large stand to reap the benefits of using the e-trikes in the area. The shift in mind set from using gasoline-fed tricycles to e-trikes is a good one, strengthened by favorable support and openness by government officials who recognize the importance of livelihood creation and environmental protection, both of which can be achieved with e-trikes as part of the overall rehabilitation plan,”  Lee said.

Brighter future

The integration of climate change together with livelihood programs in policy formulation and development plans for the area will bring about a brighter future not only for the people of Palo, Leyte, but for other municipalities and cities of the affected provinces, serving as a benchmark for others to follow.

In fact, the Philippine government aims to jump-start the use of electric vehicles by funding a program that will replace gasoline-fed tricycles with e-trikes.

The Department of Budget and Management  has already released P506 million out of the P4.27 billion, which is the agency’s counterpart funding for the P21.67-billion project that the Asian Development Bank has initiated in order to put 200,000 units of e-trikes on Metro Manila roads, and 3.5 million across the country by 2017.

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