On a sunny Friday morning, officials of the attached agencies of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), headed by Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) general manager Jay Daniel Santiago, led us on an exciting sea trip with a series of breakthroughs unveiled along the way.
From the Port of Batangas, where a briefing was held for members of the media, the first part of the event unfolded as GM Santiago conducted a test run of their new automated ticketing machine. There stood in front of us a sleek, white and tall machine to be used for reservation, booking and payment of tickets.
The machine is part of the PPA’s new Unified Electronic Ticketing System, which aims to reduce human-to-human contact and comply with the “new normal” due to the prevalence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. But as what GM Santiago had said, this system was planned and initiated even before the pandemic broke out. This will also enable the PPA to achieve an overall ease of doing business, get rid of fixers and scalpers, and improve port processes for maritime safety and security, while providing reliable service for inter-island maritime operations.
The system, which requires an online application procedure, in support of an integrated vessel booking and payment system for roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) ports, allows passengers to do ticket transactions online via desktop or mobile phones. However, if passengers have no online access, they can directly purchase their tickets using the automated ticket vending machines, which will be situated in all PPA-managed ports nationwide.
And because the system requires the use of valid government-issued ID, it will prevent fixers from scalping or selling tickets at higher prices.
The safety of passengers will also be prioritized as overbooking and overloading in shipping vessels will be prevented. Seating capacity per vessel, which will be available through the online system, will also be based on the authorized number of passengers per vessel as approved by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
PPA targets to bid out the project before the year ends and start its implementation by next year. The number of automated ticketing machines will also depend on the passenger traffic in each port terminal.
At the same event, the second part of the series of breakthroughs was revealed when the PPA launched Traze, its new COVID-19 contact tracing mobile application. The app will be used in all PPA facilities and shipping lines nationwide.
Developed jointly by PPA’s in-house information technology experts and third-party developer Cosmotech Philippines Inc., Traze has the capability to map out the movement of individuals inside PPA facilities even without connecting to the Internet.
Designated QR codes are posted in PPA facilities and shipping lines, which must be scanned prior to entry.
Once the passenger downloads the application and scans the facility’s QR code to register, a unique QR code per passenger will be generated containing information specific for contact tracing.
The mobile application will automatically notify the passengers who downloaded the application via email or text message in the event of a reported COVID-19 positive case whom they might have interacted with inside the terminal or while aboard passenger ships.
Finally, after over two hours of travel going to Calapan, Mindoro, we were able to witness the unfolding of another breakthrough.
The PPA Calapan Port PMO proudly revealed to the public its newly-completed access road.
This project has significance for the residents of Calapan as it has been years since the province had requested its completion to ease vehicular traffic and congestion at the port.
And to this day, it was only under the Duterte administration that the project was finally realized.
To note, the construction of the Calapan Port Access Road only started in 2019 and was completed on February 2020.
The milestones that have been reached by the PPA, led by GM Jay Daniel Santiago, prove that any advancement and development can be achieved with strong will, effective leadership and driven by the spirit of true public service.
And with the determination of this administration, coupled with the resolute character of DoTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, transport initiatives for the comfort and convenience of the Filipino people can be realized.