Agencies prepare for passenger influx

TO ACCOMMODATE more passengers this Christmas season, the Maritime Industry Authority Central Visayas (Marina 7) has issued special permits to temporarily allow shipping companies to use their other Marina-registered vessels to ferry passengers outside their regular routes.

“It is a nationwide approach. We usually issue that to shipping companies,” Marina 7 Director Marc Pascua said during the Department of Transportation Regional Management Council (DOTr-RMC) meeting on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.

The move is in relation to an advisory issued by Marina on the relaxation of the set sea trips schedules.

“If their vessel is full, it can leave port as the need arises so that it will be able to go back right away and ferry more passengers,” said Pascua in a mix of Tagalog and English.

As part of Marina efforts under Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Pasko 2019, Pascua said they also deployed personnel in strategic points such as the ports of Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Hagnaya in Negros Oriental, Tagbilaran and northern Cebu respectively.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District Central Visayas, in coordination with the Cebu Port Authority (CPA), deployed explosive, narcotics, K9 units and a pork-sniffing dog that can detect pig blood as the ban on pork products from Luzon continues to be in effect in Cebu.

Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina, PCG 7 spokesperson, said PCG vessels are also on standby while Coast Guard substations are strictly conducting coastal security patrols.

In strategic seaports, a 24/7 help desk has been set up with first aid kits and an ambulance on standby, said Encina.

For the air sector, Steve Dicdican, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager, said the MCIAA will implement intelligence-based security.

“We have intelligence agents scattered all over the airport and we have portable x-rays which we will be deploying around the airport,” he said.

Dicdican also advised passengers to come to the airport several hours before their scheduled flight as MCIAA expects a 20 percent increase in the number of passengers daily this Christmas season.

“Our passengers are increasing every day. We have 30,000 to 35,000 passengers average daily. We have about 127 million passengers for this year,” Dicdican said.

For its part, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 will begin Oplan Malasakit starting today, Dec. 20 until Jan. 3, 2020.

Eugenio Ibo Jr., LTFRB 7 technical development officer, said they will conduct regular terminal inspections to monitor the condition, to check for necessary permits, and to implement limits on the number of passengers per public utility vehicle (PUV).

“We will intensify also our effort to go after colorum vehicles especially in these times because it is really on those occasions that they travel because there are lots of passengers,” he said.

Ibo said LTFRB 7 has already granted special permits to about a hundred PUVs as more passengers are expected to flock to bus terminals in the coming days. (WBS)


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