CLOSE to a quarter of a million people are expected to flock to various ports in Cebu before and during the Holy Week observance starting Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022, officials of the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) said on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Mary Knoll Lague-Bolasa, CPA’s public relations officer, told SunStar Cebu they are expecting around 250,000 people to flock to CPA’s ports and subports in time for the Holy Week observance, especially with Covid-19 restrictions now less stringent compared to last year.

The Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, April 10, and ends on Easter Sunday, April 17.

Last year, around 151,000 people went through CPA’s ports before and during the Holy Week, Bolasa said.

Damaged ports

Bolasa admitted they may encounter some challenges in handling the influx of people this year since some of their ports damaged by Typhoon Odette (Rai) last December remain unrepaired.

CPA has jurisdiction over the four domestic ports at the Cebu baseport in Cebu City and the 12 subports situated in Cebu Province.

Aside from Pier 1 at the Cebu Baseport, Bolasa said six of their subports are currently undergoing repair due to damage brought by the typhoon.

These are the Ports of Punta Engaño and Muelle Osmeña in Lapu-Lapu City; Port of Poro in the Camotes Islands; Port of Tangil in Dumanjug; Port of Danao City, Cebu; and Port of Taloot in Argao.

Of the six subports with reported typhoon-related damage, only the Port of Taloot in Argao does not accommodate passenger vessels, Bolasa added.

Bolasa said while these ports are currently undergoing repairs, they can still accommodate passengers.

Bolasa added they have requested additional tents and chairs to make up for their port facilities that are still under repair.

In a statement, CPA general manager Leonilo Miole encouraged all passengers to strictly observe a one-meter distance while queuing at the passenger terminals during boarding and disembarkation.

“With the ongoing repair and rehabilitation of some of our port facilities, we still have limited areas to accommodate a large number of passengers. Therefore, we appeal to our traveling public not to go to ports without confirmed travel booking to avoid overcrowding,” Miole added.

Only passengers with boat tickets and valid identification cards will be allowed entry to the port at least for two hours from the scheduled departure time. CPA will also strictly impose the “No ticket, No ID, No Entry Policy” in all its ports.

Security

Miole said their precautionary measures, including an increasing alert protocol in all of their ports, is part of their “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa and Summer Vacation 2022” preparations to ensure the safety, security and comfort of all passengers who will be traveling to their home provinces or cities through the ports for the Holy Week.

Miole also reminded the public not to avail themselves of any illegal ticket scouting by unauthorized persons and to book their tickets in advance to avoid heavy queuing outside the port area where most ticketing outlets are located.

Malasakit Help Desks and first-aid stations will be activated in passenger terminals to attend to various passenger concerns. All port management offices were directed to ensure that all booths, counters, and centers serving passengers are properly manned during operating hours.

Direct boarding of passengers to the vessel will be allowed as may be deemed necessary in order to avoid crowding, inconvenience, or delay of the vessel’s departure provided that security, safety and health protocols are observed.

For the duration of Oplan Biyaheng Ayos, CPA will deploy additional Port Police Officers in ports with high passenger traffic to enforce port safety and security protocols.

Partners from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will also conduct random inspection and K9 sweeping as part of the intensified campaign to interdict drug couriers passing through seaports. The Philippine Coast Guard will also deploy bomb-sniffing dogs in port areas and passenger terminal buildings.

Miole assured all port users that daily disinfection activities are conducted in all port passenger terminal buildings, port entry and exit points, shuttle buses and all other areas in the port that are highly exposed to passenger traffic.

“Rest assured that we are doing our best to ensure that we will have a safe and peaceful Holy Week celebration in the ports of Cebu,” said Miole. (PR)