28 August 2020
PHILIPPINES COMMITS AS MAJOR CREW CHANGE HUB IN ASEAN MARITIME CONFAB; UPDATES EFFORTS ON COVID-19, OTHER INITIATIVES
The Philippines, through the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), on Thursday committed itself to becoming a major international hub for crew change before the 39th Meeting of the Maritime Transport Working Group of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its Dialogue Partners such as China, Japan, Korea and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). This is the first time that the meeting was held virtually amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
MARINA Administrator Robert A Empedrad, who headed the Philippine Delegation, said that the Philippines as a responsible member of the international maritime community continues to cooperate with Member States for the facilitation and safe movement of the world’s seafarers noting their importance in the stability of the global seaborne trade. As a major provider of seafarers to the global labor market, he further mentioned that the Philippines has already opened the Ports of Manila, Bataan and Subic for international crew change and that the country is looking forward to the opening of its other international ports for this purpose.
“Given that seafarers play a crucial role in local and global maritime community, the welfare of these key workers should be of prime importance. As such, our maritime sector is working diligently to activate crew change hubs in the country to give maritime vessels the avenue to refresh their manpower, and to provide relief to our hardworking seafarers,” Empedrad said.
“They are the lifeline of the world’s economy as such they are our essential workers. In the Philippines, our seafarers are our indispensable partners for our country’s economic development.”
Philippines’ Maritime Initiatives amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
At this meeting, Administrator Empedrad assured that the Philippines continues to exert its utmost effort to keep the maritime industry afloat through a “whole-of-government approach” amidst the pandemic.
At this unprecedented time, he ensured that the supply chains, including the maritime sector in the Philippines, remain operational with the implementation of several measures such as the: 1) use of automated systems to lessen face-to-face transactions; 2) creation of a Shipping Protection Office, which protects both domestic and international shippers against unreasonable fees and charges imposed by the shipping lines; 3) decongestion of ports; 4) issuance of directive for all domestic shipping lines to provide cargo space and allocation for agricultural and food products, and providing preferential cargo rates; and 5) extension of STCW certificates for seafarers that are still on board ships.
Philippines’ Initiatives on the Implementation of Maritime Transport-Related Measures Under Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan (KLTSP)
The Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan (KLTSP) 2016-2025 is a 10-year masterplan for the ASEAN transport sector, which aims to enhance regional economic integration.
One of the projects under the KLTSP is the ASEAN Single Shipping Market (ASSM). Administrator Empedrad provided updates on the progress of the Pilot Project regarding the operationalization of ASSM, and coordination efforts to support the sustainability of Davao-General Santos-Bitung route Ro-Ro operation. The ASSM aims to improve the region’s logistics performance and international competitiveness.
Aside from ASSM, the Philippines conveyed its support and participation in the succeeding phase of the “Advanced Personnel Training Program for Vessel Traffic Service (VTS)” project as its ports acquire more VTS facilities and equipment to improve the delivery of service to stakeholders. The VTS refers to the marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities.
Further, Administrator Empedrad also conveyed the country’s support to the ASEAN’s proposed project relating to the “Conduct of a package of ASEAN-China Maritime Transport Studies”. The said study aims at maximizing the potential of maritime trade between the ASEAN region and China through the assessment of economic benefits of the shipping network, and identification of possible cooperation areas.
This Year’s First ASEAN Maritime Transport Working Group (MTWG)
The 39th ASEAN MTWG meeting aims to provide updates on the status and implementation of the measures and strategic actions on maritime related programs, projects and activities under the KLTSP 2016-2025.
The said meeting was attended by the ASEAN Member States delegates from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and the Philippines. It is likewise participated by the dialogue partners from Japan, China, Republic of Korea and International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The ASEAN MTWG Meetings are being conducted twice a year to monitor the progress in the implementation of the KLTSP (2016-2025) and to discuss various ASEAN transport-related initiatives.
21 August 2020
DOTr, LTFRB deploy bus units with left-side facing doors along the EDSA Busway System
Upon reverting back to general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has begun utilizing public utility bus (PUB) units with passenger doors located on the left side for trips along the main EDSA thoroughfare.
The Mega Manila Consortium, one of the two consortiums operating the EDSA Busway route, reported that 3 units from HM Transport Inc., with both left-side and right-side passenger doors, were launched last Wednesday, August 19. 7 more units with the same configuration shall be dispatched within September. Meanwhile, RRCG, will likewise add more left-entry buses next week.
According to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor, the arrangement between their agency and among private bus companies for the use of such units was created to ensure safe service for the commuting public.
“These bus units will better accommodate commuters who will now be using the new loading and unloading bus stops located in the innermost lane of EDSA. Aside from the installation of canopies and lighting fences, we have also placed concrete barriers and steel separators on EDSA’s median lanes to ensure utmost safety and comfort,” Asec. Pastor said.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III meanwhile reported that a total of 3,662 units and opened 31 traditional City Bus routes in Metro Manila.
According to him, alongside the operation of PUBs, the LTFRB has also opened other routes and approved more units of public transportation that includes modern and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJS), UV Express (UVE) vehicles, Point-to-Point Buses (P2Ps), Transport Network Vehicles services (TNVS), and TAXI services.
“For modern PUJs, 716 units have begun operating in 45 routes; while for traditional PUJs, the LTFRB has allowed the operation of an additional 4,498 units in 60 routes. This brings the total number of authorized traditional PUJs to 12,443 in 126 routes,” Chairman Delgra said
“Meanwhile, an additional 4 routes with 641 units have been authorized for UV Express, which totals to 1,621 authorized UVEs currently plying in 51 routes. While 364 units of P2P buses are operating in 33 routes, with 20,493 taxis and 23,776 TNVS ferrying passengers in the Metro,” Delgra added.
All units of road transport are still required to strictly follow the existing health guidelines and safety protocols provided by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
All forms of road public transportation will follow a limited passenger capacity of 50%, while maintaining physical distancing and sanitary practices in their vehicles. The DOTr is ensuring that law enforcers and on-ground marshals are monitoring all public transport vehicles. Otherwise, penalties will be dealt to those caught breaking the rules, Pastor emphasized.
Commuters, on the other hand, are now required to wear a face shield on top of their face masks in order to be permitted to travel—be it on land, sea, or air— as mandated by the newly issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-14 of the DOTr. The new requirement took effect upon the reallowing of public transportation last August 18.
Aside from Metro Manila, the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Lapu Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay, and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu province are now also placed under GCQ.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Philippines are under a lenient modified general community quarantine.
18 August 2020
Railways, PUVs ready for commuters as Metro Manila shifts to GCQ
MANILA – The railways sector and operators of various public utility vehicles to include UV express units, taxis, buses and modern as well as traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) have expressed readiness to serve commuters once Metro Manila shifts to general community quarantine (GCQ).
With Metro Manila shifting to a GCQ status, the MRT-3 line is ready to dispatch 16 Czech-built CKD train sets and 2 China-built Dalian train sets on a daily basis.
The LRT-1 line, meanwhile, is prepared to dispatch on weekdays 24 train sets for the morning peak hours, 18 train sets for the off-peak hours, and 24 train sets during the afternoon peak hours.
The LRT Line 2 will be deploying 5 trains sets daily.
For its part, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is ready to deploy 10 train sets on a daily basis.
To complement the train services which will be on limited capacity to conform to the physical distancing measure, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has authorized the operation of additional traditional PUJs and UV Express (UVE) vehicle units.
For traditional PUJs, the LTFRB has allowed the operation of additional 4,498 units in 60 routes. This is on top of the 7,945 authorized units in 66 routes as of July 29, and thus brings the total number of authorized traditional PUJs to 12,443 in 126 routes.
An additional 4 routes with 641 units have been authorized for UV Express, which totals to 1,621 the number of authorized UVEs in 51 routes to hit the Metro streets once GCQ is enforced.
There will also be 3,662 public utility buses (PUBs) that will help ferry commuters in 31 routes across Metro Manila.
In addition, 716 modern public utility jeepneys (PUJs) will be operating in 45 routes; 364 units for Point-to-Point (P2P) buses in 33 routes; 20,493 taxis will be available to transport passengers; and 23,776 transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units will ply the Metro.
With the reopening of public transportation services during the GCQ, the DOTr reminds passengers that strict health and safety protocols will be enforced to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Commuters are reminded that the “No face mask and no face shield, no ride” policy will be strictly enforced in all sectors of public transportation —Road, Railways, Maritime and Aviation—as mandated by DOTr and which has been effective since 15 August in areas where public transport is allowed.
Strict physical distancing will also be implemented onboard public utility vehicles, terminals, in rail line facilities and aboard trains to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Passengers must follow the marking in PUV terminals, stations and onboard PUVs and trains. Train marshals and law enforcers will guide and ensure that the protocols are being observed.
Commuters are also encouraged to practice regular sanitation and disinfection procedures, using footbaths, available wash stations and hand sanitation supplies. Further, passengers will also have to accomplish contact tracing and health declaration forms before entering the rail stations and terminals.
All passengers will have to undergo body temperature check before entering the terminal and stations, as well as boarding vehicles and trains. For the MRT-3, LRT Line 2 and PNR, passengers with a body temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius and above will not be allowed to enter the rail station, while for LRT1, the threshold is 37.6 degrees Celsius.
At the PNR, the strict health checks will be enforced in its stations and trains. Once inside the station, passengers will proceed to a sanitation station and their body temperature will be checked using a CCTV-based mass thermal scanner.
All passengers are enjoined to refrain from talking and using cell phones and other communications device while inside the train to avoid the spread of respiratory droplets which may carry the virus.
To help protect the health of the riding public, strict health and safety measures are being implemented by transport authorities such as the wearing of full personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline employees; disinfection of trains at every half-loop, and of vehicle units after every trip or every 2 hours; disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in stations and terminals, and onboard trains and PUV units; and encouraging the use of contactless/online payment systems.
At the rail lines, employees will also have to undergo COVID-19 testing before returning to work. The management will also be conducting daily symptom check, and will immediately place in quarantine employees who will show any COVID-19 symptom.
08 August 2020
DOTr sends two reefer vans to Romblon as part of ongoing ‘Palamigan ng Bayan’ project amid COVID-19 pandemic
MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) sent two refrigerated container vans (reefer vans) to Romblon as part of its ongoing “Palamigan ng Bayan” project which aims to help local government units store perishable goods and farm produce amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The two reefer vans, donated by Maersk Line, were repaired and delivered to the DOTr through the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) by the Association of International Shipping Lines Inc. (AISL) on 3 July 2020.
On 24 July 2020, the two reefer vans were sent by the DOTr, with the assistance of Starhorse Shipping Lines, Inc. and Certified Customs Brokerage Inc., to the towns of San Agustin, and Romblon, in Romblon province.
An initiative by Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade, the “Palamigan ng Bayan” project aims to help the agriculture sector preserve the quality of their farm produce and gain better market access, as well as further strengthen and boost the government’s response efforts amid the current economic crisis brought about by the (COVID-19) pandemic.
“It has always been my goal for our provinces, especially those that rely heavily on agriculture, to have access to reefer container vans or what we call as “Palamigan ng Bayan,” said Secretary Tugade.
“Now that we are facing an unprecedented crisis, we can clearly see how crucial it is to support the agriculture sector. It is high time to boost our initiative and reach areas that are in dire need of help,” Secretary Tugade added.
The two reefer vans add to the initial eleven (11) “Palamigan” donated reefers that have been deployed to various municipalities and cities across the country. The first refrigerated container van was sent to Bohol in 2018.
On April 13, two reefer container vans were deployed to the One Bataan Center in Orani, Bataan to help preserve the supply of perishable goods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish products in the province. This was followed by another five refrigerated containers being sent to Dingalan, Aurora; Tubigon, Bohol; Claveria, Cagayan; Iloilo Province; and Ormoc City, Leyte.
On May 4, the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) reported to the DOTr that the three reefer container vans intended for Cebu Province were turned over to its Provincial Government. The CPA assisted in the turn-over. The agency also reported that one of the three units was already deployed to the Municipality of San Remigio Fish Port, while the remaining two were delivered to Cebu South Bus terminal to be used for the Provincial Bagsakan Central.
For his part, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Maritime Transport VADM Narciso Vingson Jr. affirmed that these reefer vans are already being used by the respective municipalities.
“Following the mandate of DOTr Secretary Tugade, we are monitoring these reefers vans and assessing to ensure that they are being used. So far, reports received from the ground confirm that they are serving their purpose,” Asec Vingson said.
PPA General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago also stressed the importance of the initiative, especially during this period that the country is grappling with a health crisis.
“Sa pamamagitan ng PPA, CPA, PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) at MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority), nagpadala po tayo ng mga tinatawag na “Palamigan ng Bayan” o ito po ‘yung mga refrigerated containers na kung saan dino-donate po ito ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon sa mga LGUs upang magamit na imbakan ng pagkain para ‘di po agad masira bago i-distribute,” GM Santiago said.