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MARINA grounds wooden-hulled Guimaras boats; hundreds of passengers stranded

MARINA grounds wooden-hulled Guimaras boats; hundreds of passengers stranded
Ime Sornito, January 3, 2021

JORDAN, Guimaras – Around 60 wooden-hulled motorboats plying the Iloilo City – Guimaras route were grounded by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) beginning Jan. 1. Hundreds of people got stranded at the wharves in in Guimaras and Iloilo City.

The boats’ Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) expired, said Director Jose Venancio Vero.

MARINA’s central office has yet to issue an order extending their CPCNs, he added.

Of the 60 grounded boats, about half were serving the Ortiz wharf (Iloilo City) to Jordan wharf (Guimaras) route.

The other half was serving the Parola wharf (Iloilo City) to Buenavista wharf (Guimaras) route.

Their CPCNs actually expired on September 2020 yet but this was extended up to Dec. 31, 2020, said Vero.

Last year, MARINA actually ordered the phase-out of all wooden-hulled boats, citing safety concerns, and encouraged operators to shift to fiberglass-hulled boats.

“Dapat wala na sila. Part yan (of our sea transport) modernization (program). Because of the pandemic (however) walang-wala talaga sila (economically) so (for humanitarian reasons) ini-extend sila hanggang Dec. 31, 2020,” said Vero.

So far, only five motorboats have shifted to fiberglass hull. Two serve the Parola wharf to Buenavista wharf route while the three others serve the Ortiz wharf to Jordan wharf route – not enough to transport efficiently many passengers stranded due to the grounding of the wooden-hulled boats.

“Ang effectivity ng CPCN na binigay natin was until Dec. 31, 2020 lang. As of now wala pa tayong natanggap from (our central office) na i-extend,” said Vero.

MARINA may allow more boats to operate should the need for them arise on Monday, Jan. 4, when people are expected to return to work either in Iloilo City or Guimaras after a long holiday break.

For his part, Vice Gov. John Edward Gando said the provincial government may charter fiberglass boats from Boracay Island if the five fiberglass boats serving Guimaras won’t be enough to serve passengers./PN