IS the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) really exercising its mandate to closely monitor all vessels and implement safety standards and regulations? I ask this question because we have been hearing reports about some passenger and cargo vessels not arriving on time in their destinations because of engine trouble.
Last week, two Medallion Transport vessels arrived late in Mindanao because they sailed with only one engine functioning. The other night, another Medallion vessel, Our Lady of All Nations, which was bound for Palompon, Leyte was forced to return to the Cebu port because of engine trouble.
A Trans-Asia Shipping Lines vessel was also delayed when it suffered mechanical problems while sailing to Cebu. Trans-Asia vessels frequently encounter delays. I don’t know the condition of its ships.
The shipping company that suffered the most number of accidents was Sulpicio Lines, prompting its owners to no longer ferry passengers and focus instead on cargo operations. The management also changed the shipping company’s name. Morag dimalason tong Sulpicio.
But do you know that more maritime disasters happen than aviation disasters? There are only three majors reasons why maritime disasters happen.
First is human error. The miscalculation and misjudgment of the vessel’s captain lead to accidents like sea collisions. Sus, pagkalapad anang dagat pero magkabangga pa gyud nang mga barko.
Second is mechanical defect. If machines malfunction, vessels lose their strength. What if these encounter big waves? Aw, inighapak sa bawod, kaliring.
Third is bad weather or force majeure. That is why navigators should monitor the weather before deciding to lift anchor. Anyway, we have the Coast Guard that is tasked to strictly implement this. Accidents like fire and leakage happen because of the human factor.
Going back to Marina. One of its mandates under Republic Act 9295 is to issue certificates of public convenience (CPC) authorizing the operation of all vessels in domestic shipping. The agency has the power to modify, suspend and revoke the CPC but with due process. It also has the mandate to inspect all vessels and ensure compliance with safety standards and other regulations.
What is Marina doing with shipping companies whose vessels frequently suffer engine trouble? Does it have to wait for a major disaster before acting against vessels considered as “floating coffins”? Allowing these vessels to sail is inviting disaster.
I think it is time for Marina to strictly enforce our maritime laws without fear or favor. I know it will be hard for shipping operators to upgrade their fleet because it will cost billions of pesos. They are even complaining with the government’s plan to phase out vessels 30 years old and above. But the government and the stakeholders can come up with a win-win solution on this matter. In the meantime, we are asking Marina to live up to its mandate by enforcing our maritime laws.