Marina-7 eyes phaseout of wooden commercial sea vessels plying Lapu-Lapu to Olango route
Cebu City, Philippines—The Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (MARINA-7) plans to phase out wooden commercial vessels navigating the Lapu-Lapu City to Olango Island route and replace them with steel-hulled vessels.
Lawyer Daniel Martin Oral, legal officer of MARINA-7, revealed that the said plan will supposedly take effect this year.
“We exceeded the timeline we set. I think, this is the year for the last transition for the phase out. Unfortunately, there is still temporary operation,” Oral said.
He said that they will be coordinating with the Lapu-Lapu City Government for the implementation of the plan and for the holding of a market study in order to evaluate the route properly. They will also be inviting stakeholders who would want to operate in different ports in Lapu-Lapu City.
At present, Oral said that there are at least 10 wooden-hulled sea vessels operating in the route from the Hilton Port ang Angasil Port in Lapu-Lapu to the Sta. Rosa Wharf in Olango Island. There are also two steel-hulled vessels plying the Hilton to Sta.Rosa route but these are below 250 gross tonnage, which means they still can’t sail when there is a gale warning.
Based on observations, residents patronize wooden hulls because it’s cheaper and navigates faster compared to vessels with steel hulls.
“We will intensify our program to adopt safety culture. And sorry for the word, but safety is not cheap,” said Oral.
Displaced wooden-hulled vessels are encouraged by Marina to convert their motor bancas for tourism purposes.
Oral added that the move will also make way to the request of the Lapu-Lapu City Government to deploy vessels weighing more than 250 gross tonnages in the said ports.
But he said they have to look into the limitations of the ports in accommodating such kinds of vessels.
Earlier, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head Nagiel Bañacia told CDN Digital that they will be requesting MARINA-7 to deploy steel-hulled vessels in order to ensure the continuous operation in ferrying passengers from mainland Lapu-Lapu to Olango Island and vice-versa despite minor weather disturbances.
Last week, hundreds of passengers were stranded in the three ports, after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended the trips of vessels below 250 gross tonnages due to rough seas and strong winds caused by the gale warning issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA).
PCG District Central Visayas (PCG-7) spokesperson Liuetenant Junior Grade Michael John Encina apologized to the affected passengers for the suspension of trips which lasted for around eight days.
“Our priority is the safety of tourists and passengers,” Encina said. /bmjo
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