Random inspection of ships over 35 years old begins
CEBU - In order to ensure the safety of passengers and prevent sea accidents, the Maritime Industry Authority said it is conducting random inspection of sea vessels 35 years old and up for its seaworthiness.
MARINA Regional Director Nannette Dinopol said ensuring the seaworthiness, especially of old vessels, is critical to guarantee the lives of passengers at sea. “We are currently doing a profiling of ships’ safety nationwide,” she said.
Dinopol said there is a process of crafting a policy to phase out ships that are 35 years old and above although this would be a slow and te- dious process considering that quite a significant number would be affected.
In Central Visayas alone, she said there are 138 roll-on-roll-off passenger ships and 365 ships of all types that are aged 35 years old and above.
She said that talks have started with financial institutions which can provide affordable loans to ship owners that might be hit by such policy in case it is approved.
“But as of now, there is no policy yet,” stressed Dinopol on the move to phase out old ships, although she added that ship owners who want to continue operations could utilize local shipbuilders to reduce capital costs.
However, the Visayan Association of Ferryboat Services and Coastwise Operators (VAFSCO) opposed the move to phase out old vessels because it will affect a number of ship operators.
Alexander Cohon, VAFSCO president, said ships safety is not based on age, but rather on regular maintenance and competence of people manning the ship.
“One can have a brand new ship but the crew manning it is not well-equipped,” said Cohon, adding, every dry dock maintenance is done and parts are replaced when necessary which makes the ships safe to travel.