By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has stopped accepting registrations for new wooden-hulled passenger vessels that are the most common modes of transportation in the Philippines, particularly in island towns and villages.
The move is part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) move to modernize the industry and ensure passenger safety at seas.
It is also seen as a ripple effect of the Iloilo Strait tragedy on Aug 3, 2019 where three pump boats capsized and claimed 31 lives.
“We have to phaseout the wooden-hulled… We issued directive na we will not anymore register ‘yung mga bagong wooden hull,” Marina officer-in-charge Administrator Narciso Vingson Jr. said on the sidelines of the Maritime Safety Summit in Manila on Friday.
Vingson said Marina issued the directive two weeks ago.
“Kasi kapag di namin ini-stop tuloy tuloy pa rin ang paggawa ng wooden hull,” a GMA News Online story cited Vingson as saying.
Marina said it will also stop renewing the registrations of existing wooden-hulled passenger boats.
“Existing wooden-hulled boats with registration, they have an expiration for five years and after that we will not be renewing,” Vingson said, noting that boats can only be registered if it will be made from fiberglass or steel-hulled.
ILOILO STRAIT TRAGEDY
In his remarks, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade cited the sea mishap in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait early this month, wherein 31 people were killed after three motor bancas capsized while sailing amid strong monsoon winds.
Tugade said the DOTR has issued a Department Order to phaseout wooden-hulled boats in 2016.
“I want huge push to implement this,” the Transportation chief said.
Vingson said the planned phaseout will greatly affect the industry as 80% out of the 7,000 registered ships are wooden-hulled.
“But we will not compromise safety,” the Marina chief said.
The government will follow the model of the PUV Modernization Program and provide financial support mechanism for those who will be affected by the planned wooden-hulled boats phase-out.
“They can form a cooperative because a single owner cannot afford a fiberglass ship which costs around P5 million to P8 million,” Vingson said.
“We have support mechanisms, tutulungan natin sila,” he said.
Apart from replacing the wooden boats with steel or fiberglass, Tugade also said that ports must be RoRo (roll on-roll off) ready so that sea travel will not relly on wooden-hulled boats.
Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Santiago said the PPA is already retrofitting ports to make it suitable for RoRo ships. (With a report from GMA News Online)