Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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Three sea trip operators servicing the Iloilo-Bacolod route are gearing up for the “new normal”, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) in Region 6 (Western Visayas) said on Monday.

MARINA-6 regional director Jose Venancio Vero told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that operators have been briefed of the protocols to follow once the operation of sea trips will resume on June 1.

The resumption of the boat trips was earlier scheduled on May 18 but moved to June 1 as Negros Occidental is not yet ready to open its port for passengers.

The three passenger and tourist operators that operate in Iloilo and Bacolod are Weesam Express Fast Craft, SuperCat Fast Ferry Corporation, and Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc.

“The May 18 resumption was opposed by the governor of Negros Occidental and the mayor of Bacolod for the sake of the passengers’ safety,” Vero said.

The closure of the terminal and the suspension of trips give more time for the MARINA and sea trip operators to prepare.

“We have issued an advisory to them on what to prepare. We told them that the capacity will be reduced to 50 percent under the new normal,” he said.

The operators will also make use of the time to install safe physical distancing markers to serve as visual cues for the passengers.

“We are also preparing the passenger terminal and we make sure that sanitizers and hand wash areas will be available once we resume,” Vero said.

The average of 21 trips daily will be reduced to six once the operation will be allowed. The three sea trip operators have rationalized their schedules to make safe physical distancing possible at the terminals, he said.

“They cannot operate simultaneously to make room for health protocols and to make sure that the fast craft is sanitized every after a trip,” he added.

Like the fast crafts, the roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels will also be allowed to carry 50 percent of passengers on June 1, Vero said. (PNA)

Photo Sources: PNA/MARINA 6

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