Papua New Guinea is reportedly planning to import thousands of Philippine-made passenger jeeps to bolster its public transport system, an envoy revealed yesterday.

Bienvenio Tejano, Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, told local radio station dzMM that the central Pacific country is deep in negotiations with the government in Manila for the import of at least 4,000 locally-designed passenger jeeps, popularly termed as Jeepneys.

"We are now on the second stage of our negotiations. The transport minister of Papua New Guinea came to my office and discussed his country's problems regarding its transport system," Tejano said in the radio interview.

Tejano said Papua New Guinea is considering vehicles to replace mini buses and closed vans commonly used for public transport in that country.

The ambassador said officials in Papua New Guinea is seriously considering jeepneys owing to the vehicle's reliability, ease of maintenance and low cost.

Jeepneys form the backbone of public transport in the Philippines for the past 50 years.

The vehicle, which was adapted from the American military workhorse – the jeep, had provided cheap transport to Filipinos.

But lately the vehicle had been under fire from environmentalists who said that it is one of the major source of pollution in the country.

Although the jeep's body is manufactured in the Philippines, its working parts are mainly second hand imports from Japan.

The plan to import jeepneys also come at a time when the local jeepney industry is in the doldrums.

Increasing competition from utility vehicles made by automobile manufacturing giants from Japan are driving the jeepneys from Philippine roads.