The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) said it will continue to enforce the phase-out of wooden-hulled passenger ships traveling domestic routes despite reports of grounded passengers.
In a statement, Marina said that following the expiration of Certificates of Public Convenience (CPC) of wooden-hulled ships on Dec. 31, there was a “temporary influx” of passengers, particularly those traveling the Guimaras-Iloilo route since the start of the new year.
“Following the expiration of their CPCs, wooden-hulled ships are no longer allowed to operate or transport passengers and cargoes,” it added.
The policy is based on Marina Circular No. 2016-02, or the “Revised Rules on the Phase-Out of Wooden Hulled Ships Carrying Passengers in Domestic Shipping”.
“At the policy level, the transitory period for the grant of CPC to wooden-hulled boats has been extended several times already, and this practice should end,” Marina said.
To address the volume of passengers affected by the grounding, it said plastic-reinforced or fiber-reinforced plastic boats and RoRo ships were provided to transport these passengers.
The Marina Iloilo Regional Office, it said, is monitoring the situation in Guimaras and has relaxed the schedule of boat trips operating in Buenavista, Guimaras to Iloilo route and vice versa during the peak hours of 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
To help the operators and personnel of wooden hull ships affected by the phase-out, it said incentive schemes will be provided to domestic ship owners to acquire modern ships through collaboration with other industry stakeholders.
“Marina will continue to implement policies that will ensure seamless and convenient domestic sea travels by giving primordial consideration to the safety of passengers and cargoes through the introduction of modern and technologically advanced ships,” it added.
Beginning Jan. 1, at least 60 wooden-hulled ships were reported to have been grounded at the Guimaras–Iloilo route, stranding hundreds of passengers. Last year, Marina Iloilo director Jose Venancio Vero Jr. ordered the phase-out of all wooden-hulled boats due to safety concerns and encouraged ship owners to shift to plastic or fiber-reinforced plastic boats.*PNA