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Philippines ready to handle crew change demand

PH ready to handle crew change demand
Genivi Factao September 2, 2020

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) gave assurances that the country is ready to handle crew change with additional ports already activated and more international ports being readied to be opened to serve ships of any sizes and thus boost revenues for the maritime industry.

Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said the crew change hubs in the country were seen to generate economic activities and revenues from the collection of port dues and charges from ship dockage or anchorage.

Three crew change hubs located at the Port of Manila, Port of Capinpin in Bataan, and Subic Bay Freeport Zone were activated. Other ports for activation include Batangas, Davao, and Cebu.

For ship turnaround, cargo ships usually stay for about 6 to 12 hours while cruise ships stay for a week up to a month if they serve as quarantine facilities.

“We can look forward to the same maritime traffic in other hubs as more foreign shipping principals were expected to patronize our ports for a crew change. Aside from opening our ports for a crew change, the Joint Circular for Green Lane for seafarers provide speedy movements of seafarers in our country,” he said.

“Three major shipping companies in Japan already bannered our green lane program in the conduct of crew change. We expect other flags to follow their lead. By becoming a crew change capital of the world, we would not only prime up our seafaring and maritime industry. We also expect to boost our hospitality industry,” Santiago said.

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said a total of 734 ships docked or anchored in the Port of Manila for a crew change, in the last four months.

A total of 34,000 seafarers were served, wherein 28,000 seafarers disembarked while 5,800 joined the ships.

“Given that seafarers play a crucial role in the 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 adding that “our seafarers are our indispensable partners for our country’s economic development.”

OIC-Assistant Secretary for Maritime Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson, Jr. said they guarantee that the health and safety of seafarers and the public were protected.

“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agencies were activating hubs in close coordination with various government agencies and units involved in crew changes,” Vinson said.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said that the crew change hub abides by the established health and quarantine protocols of the Department of Health (DOH).

“The DOTr Team, composed of the Central Office, OTS, PCG, and MARINA, has also been meeting with the DOH, Bureau of Immigration (BI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and SBMA to ensure that the hub will conform with all requirements, especially health and safety protocols including quarantine procedures. To ensure the smooth flow of operations, we have conducted a dry run which was witnessed by the public,” Ursabia said.