The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) started Wednesday the implementation of its circular that phases out all wooden-hulled vessels that transport passengers from port-to-port in Puerto Princesa city and the whole Palawan.
Engineer Nelson Sobrevega, head of MARINA in Palawan, said a directive has now been passed down, ordering them to instigate Circular No. 2016-2 which seeks the eventual discontinuation of operation of passenger wooden-hulled vessels, particularly in all ports in Coron and El Nido in the northern part of the province.
He said the wooden-hulled vessels will be replaced by larger vessels that are tough, well-made, and more seaworthy by 2018 for the safety of passengers.
“They will be replaced by vessels with modern hulls, for example fiber glass-hulled, aluminum-hulled or steel-hulled vessels,” Sobrevega said.
“The implementation will affect liner routes, where there are regular or permanent schedules of trip, and that have port of calls. They will be the areas where the phase out will be done first that is why we are already advising this early,” he added.
Once a route is declared “fully served,” Sobrega explained operators of wooden-hulled vessels will be given six months to stop their operations.
“This is for the safety and comfort of our passengers,” he added, saying they are now in the stage of implementing the circular.
El Nido and Coron are the first areas, where the phase out is now being enforced because of the entry of two shipping lines of Montenegro.
Once fully served, the wooden-hulled vessels that ply the routes will be stopped from operating even if they have the capacity to transport 80-100 passengers.
Sobrevega added the circular does not cover motor boats that cater to tourists, especially those operating in areas identified as tourist sites of the Department of Tourism (DOT).
The implementation is not limited only in Palawan, he stated, but it covers the whole MIMAROPA.
He also accepts that there will be complaints, but he said they cannot do anything because “it’s the marching order to give priority to safer passenger vessel operation.”