Suspension on 3 vessels lifted-A A +A
Monday, August 19, 2013
CEBU CITY -- The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) lifted the suspension of operation of three vessels from 2Go Group Inc. and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (formerly Sulpicio Lines Inc.).
These vessels passed an inspection ordered after a mid-sea collision killed at least 39, with 80 others still missing. That, while Cebu business leaders are appealing for the speedy investigation of the mishap so that cargo traffic won’t be hampered.
They also asked government regulators to strictly enforce policies and regulations to prevent accidents like this.
Marina-Central Visayas Director Nannette Villamor Dinopol said passenger ships, M/V St. Anthony de Padua of 2Go and M/V Princess of the Earth of Philippine Span Asia were cleared after engineers found no major deficiencies during the re-inspection and audit.
Dinopol said cargo ship M/V Span Asia 5, also of Philippine Span Asia, was also given clearance to sail after passing the Marina inspection Sunday morning.
However, M/V Princess of the South and M/V Sulpicio Container XIV of the same company will stay grounded until the noted major deficiencies are rectified.
Marina Administrator Maximo Q. Mejia Jr. ordered last August 17 (Saturday) the suspension of the fleet of the two shipping lines after M/V St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go and M/V Sulpicio Express Siete of Philippine Span Asia figured in a collision last August 16 off Lawis Ledge in Talisay City.
Arnie Santiago, the chief of the Enforcement Office of Marina Central Office, identified the ship captains of the two vessels as Captain Ronito Gilo of Sulpicio Express Siete and Captain Rolan Bermejo of St. Thomas Aquinas.
As of Sunday, Santiago was getting the affidavits of the officers and crew of Sulpicio Express Siete. He will get the affidavits of the officers and crew of St. Thomas Aquinas today, August 19.
Also on Sunday, Captain Nestor Ponteres of Philippine Span Asia said M/V Sulpicio Express Siete was carrying cement, fertilizers and prime commodities to Davao when the accident happened.
Ponteres said the cargoes in containers are still with M/V Sulpicio Express Siete, which is anchored at the collision site and could not be delivered to its destination until the case is resolved.
The delay in the delivery of the products to Davao may affect the construction industry, the agricultural sector and even the dry goods markets, Ponteres said.
M/V St. Thomas Aquinas was also carrying about 104 20-footer cargo containers when it sank after the collision.
However, Lito Salvio, the 2Go Group Officer-Designate for Safety Management System, said they are still conducting inventory to determine the various goods inside the 104 cargo containers.
“While safety should be given the utmost priority, a speedy resolution must be made by various agencies in order not to affect Cebu’s economy,” said Philip Tan, president of Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in a phone interview on Sunday.
He said vessels found to have no problem during the audit should be released so as not to restrict the flow of goods and transport from Manila to Cebu and Davao. Cebu is also a trans-shipment point to other neighboring islands.
Tan said government should encourage other players to temporary fill in the route serviced by the two shipping companies.
Meanwhile, Rey Calooy, president of Filipino-Cebuano Business Club, questioned the suspension of the whole fleet of the two shipping companies, saying the local economy might be affected since most of our goods are from Manila while supply of vegetables comes from Mindanao.
“2GO and Sulpicio Lines are major shipping companies that comprise more than half of the industry. Why, every time we have sea tragedies, do we suspend the entire fleet? They should only investigate those involved in the accidents,” said Calooy.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Lito Maderazo said the recent incident should serve as a “wake-up call” for the government, in terms of improving the industry standards and in implementing stricter guidelines and policies.
“If the consequences of the incident could mean temporary dislocation in the flow of commodities, then so be it. Let this (incident) be a lesson,” said Maderazo.
He emphasized that the government should put public safety above anything else and that it is high time to revisit and upgrade the guidelines in our transportation industry.
“We have been branded as a disaster-prone country. When are we ever going to learn?” he said.
“I just hope that we finally improve the standards of safety and governance in the maritime industry. Our safety record has been pathetic,” said Cebu Business Club president Gordon Allan Joseph. (KOC/EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 19, 2013.