Sail from better ports

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Tubigon port (File Photo)

Among the most frenetic activities in the maritime sector is happening under the two and a half years of the Duterte administration with no less than 160 projects having been started.

The details of that is these are implemented all over the Philippines and it involves putting up of ports, terminals, improving belting and different other undertakings.

Among these projects is the strategic reopening of the biggest passenger terminal with a capacity of 3,000 passengers in Tubigon, Bohol after the damage it sustained during a magnitude 7.2 earthquake five years ago had been repaired.

The repair and renovation of the port was fast-tracked after an inspection conducted by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in March 2018.

The repair was completed in less than nine months and the port can now accommodate 28 ships, including larger sea vessels, which is almost three times more than its previous capacity of 10 ships. It also has three roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) wharfs for docking landing craft tanks and barges.

Its air-conditioned passenger terminal building can serve about 4,000 passengers daily from the previous 1,500 and provides a child care station facility. It also has enhanced security facilities, including a baggage x-ray machine and a walk-through metal detector.

Enhanced services

The rehabilitation of the Tubigon port included the establishment of a one-stop shop for a more convenient clearing and payment of charges; the repair of the pedestrian covered walkway, lighting system, security fence and gate and improvements on the port access road.

“The rehabilitation of the Tubigon port forms part of the government’s infrastructure plan to further develop Bohol’s economy, which was severely affected by the devastating quake that left hundreds dead and billions of pesos worth in damage,” the PPA said.

The Tubigon port will serve as a primary dock for sea vessels traversing the Tubigon-Cebu City route and an alternative mode of transportation for travelers from Bohol going to Cebu and vice versa due to its shorter travel time, numerous transport schedules, affordable fares and availability of public vehicles that ply the routes to any point in Bohol.

The port serves as a primary dock for sea vessels traversing the Tubigon-Cebu City route and an alternative mode of transportation for travelers from Bohol going to Cebu.

Connectivity a must

“That is completed to shorten the 19 hours needed to sail between Bohol and Cebu. Why are the projects all over the Philippines? No brainer. The Philippines is an archipelago. Because it is an archipelago, it has multiple islands which needed connectivity,” he said.

“That is where the concept of the former President who is now the Speaker, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that is the nautical highway. So that is the blueprint for the maritime. We are developing the ports and expanding them. When you travel throughout the country, you will feel sorry for some places where there are no ferry operations,” he said.

“So we are putting those up. Total, 160 projects in two and a half years, I will presume that those constitute good performance,” Tugade said.

Tugade added lighthouses are also being refurbished. “Those lighthouses are mostly not operational, now we are rehabilitating them since it was lost to us that lighthouses are also navigational tools. “The objective is that all lighthouses become operational,” he added.

On maritime security, Tugade said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which is under his agency, had acquired fast boats.

“In the fast, the terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf use faster vessels than the PCG. Now we have fast crafts. We have 90 meters, 24 meters and we have increased the personnel to operate these boats,” he said.

Also the K9 operations of the PCG have improved through 400 dogs to help in securing ports.

Road RoRo

Marina also recently opened new RoRo missionary routes which means direct points connecting ports that have no existing shipping services due to their location, Tugade said.

These routes are: Basco, Batanes to Currimao, Ilocos Norte; Batangas City to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; San Juan, Batangas to Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro; Real, Quezon to Polillo Island, Quezon; Lucena, Quezon to Odiongan, Romblon; Lucena, Quezon to Buyabod, Marinduque; Lucena, Quezon to Romblon, Romblon; Lucena, Quezon to Masbate City; Maasin, Southern Leyte to Ubay, Bohol; San Narciso, Quezon to San Pascual, Masbate; Pantao, Albay to San Pascual, Masbate; Calbayog City, Samar to Cataingan, Masbate; Taytay, Palawan to Cuyo, Palawan to San Jose de Buenavista, Antique; Oslob, Cebu to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; Punta Engano, Mactan Island, Cebu to Jetafe, Bohol; Poro, Camotes, Cebu to Isabel, Leyte; Lipata, Surigao del Norte to Dapa, Surigao del Norte and Siaton, Negros Oriental to Dipolog City.

Tugade said shipping companies should operate in any of the newly opened missionary routes in support of the enhancement of the country’s Road RoRo terminal system to improve inter-island transportation, enhance tourism and expand regional markets.

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