Maritime authorities assist Filipino seafarers aboard COVID-stricken vessel from India

Marje Pelayo   •   May 7, 2021   •   510

MANILA, Philippines — Maritime authorities are currently in full force in assisting all Filipino crew members aboard a COVID-19 positive vessel MV Athens Bridge from India.

A statement from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) on Friday (May 7) said that MV Athens Bridge departed from India on April 22 and arrived in Haiphong, Vietnam on May 1 for the conduct of the crew’s RT-PCR test, as reported by the vessel’s shipping agent.

It was, later on, found that out of the 21 Filipino crew members on board, 12 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

On May 6, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) received a request from the vessel’s captain to execute a medical evacuation of the two crew members who both needed urgent medical care.

The vessel, at that time, was located 12 nautical miles west of Corregidor Island.

Upon securing clearance from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and the Department of Health, MV Athens Bridge was directed to the quarantine anchorage area designated by the One-Stop-Shop (OSS) Port of Manila.

Security was also provided by the PCG to ensure that no unauthorized vessel or banca will approach the vessel.

MARINA said that, immediately on the evening of the same day, BOQ doctors boarded the vessel to assess the condition of the crew and recommended the immediate medical evacuation of two crew members in critical condition.

The crew members in critical condition have been safely evacuated and brought to the dedicated medical facility for treatment.

The rest of the crew are contained in the vessel and shall be provided with needed medical supplies, including oxygen tanks, with assistance from the BOQ and the PCG.

The operation is spearheaded by the maritime sector of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) consisting of the MARINA, the PCG, and the Philippine Ports Authority, in cooperation with the agency members of the One-Stop-Shop (OSS) Port of Manila.

The national government assures that the situation and the condition of the crew members will be consistently monitored. Health and safety protocols will also be prioritized throughout the entire process.

DOTr inks deal with Chinese firm for Mindanao Railway project

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday (October 20) signed a  project management consultancy contract for the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project (MRP) with China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co. Ltd. consortium.

“With the signing of the agreement, it [Mindanao Railway Project] is about to be born, it is about to be triggered into reality. That is not the end of our commitment. It is just a small start of our commitment for the Mindanao Railway to come to reality,” said DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade.

The 100-kilometer Tagum-Davao-Digos Segment is an P82 billion project that will link Davao del Norte, Davao City and Digos City with its eight stations.

“The Mindanao Railway Project, despite the many challenges in the Covid-19 pandemic, the DOTr under the leadership of Sec. Art Tugade, has been consistently pushing to realize after being just a dream for more than half a century. The Mindanao Railway system will unlock opportunities and realize the potential of the people in the land of Mindanao,” said DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy Batan.

The MRP’s first segment is designed to accommodate 122,000 passengers and will reduce travel time between Tagum and Digos from the usual three hours to just one hour.

A China-funded project, the Mindanao rail will be the first train system outside of  Luzon.

“This project is an important part of the Mindanao round-the-island railway. Its planning, construction, and operation play an extremely important role in reducing travel time on the island, accelerating the flow of passengers and goods, and promoting regional economic development,” CRDC Chairman of the Board Mr. Liu Weiqun.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said that the construction of the MRP will begin in the second quarter of 2022.

The Mindanao Railway Project is expected to help improve inter-island connectivity, generate livelihood and boost the region’s economic development. AAC

DOTr to recommend increased passenger capacity in PUVs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will recommend an increase of passenger capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) as quarantine restrictions eased in the National Capital Region (NCR).

DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor on Monday (October 18) said the department will recommend the proposed passenger capacity increase to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Irerekomenda po ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon ang pagtaas ng passenger capacity sa ating mga PUVs (The DOTr will recommend the increase of passenger capacity for our PUVs) to cope with the increased number of individuals using public transport due to the imposition of a more relaxed quarantine status,” he said during a virtual public briefing.

Pastor said that increasing the number of PUV passenger capacity from the current maximum capacity of 50 percent will not only help commuters but also PUV drivers and operators, as well.

“This will also address ang matagal na hinihiling ng ating mga kasamahan sa business sector na dapat mas mapalago (what our business sector is hoping for, to boost) economic activities. We can contribute to that through an increase in public transportation, and their capacity,” Pastor said.

The DOTr official added there is no exact figure yet for the passenger capacity but assured that the proposal to be submitted to the IATF will be based on both technical and medical studies. AAC

LTFRB issues show-cause orders vs two busway consortiums

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday (October 18) issued show-cause orders against two consortiums operating along the EDSA Busway for failing to deploy sufficient number of buses.

LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra explained that the agreed cap on the maximum allowable units of bus units is at 550 buses, but the two consortiums on Monday only averaged as low as 120 units.

Minabuti nating mag-issue ng show-cause order (We decided to issue a show-cause order), directing the two consortiums running the EDSA Busway why their franchise or special permit in running the EDSA Busway should not be cancelled, suspended or that they be not penalized for deploying so few units,” he added.

He added that the two consortiums are receiving payment under the Libreng Sakay service contracting program yet there are still persistent reports of drivers and conductors not receiving their salary despite rendering  full service.

“Now that we have paid so much of this to operators already, particularly dito sa EDSA Busway Consortium or anyone for that matter, hindi na nila pwedeng gawing rason ang hindi pagbabayad sa kanilang drivers,” Chairman Delgra said.

He reminded bus operators of their obligation to pay employees as mandated under the Labor Code for the EDSA Busway Libreng Sakay Program. AAC

 

 

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