MMDA Chairman Abalos wowed by expensive ferry boat donation

Published March 4, 2021, 1:02 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) accepted on Thursday, March 4 the very generous donation of a ferry boat for the Pasig River Ferry Service (PRFS) from local developer New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI).

Caption: MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos (4th from left) aboard M/B Vicente during vessel’s test ride on March 4, 2021 (MMDA)

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos couldn’t help but highlight this during the turnover ceremony for the 50-seat M/B Vicente at the Guadalupe Ferry Station in Makati City.

“Ako po ay natutuwa na ito na po ang ating bangka na bago. Napakamahal po nito at ito’y I ibibigay lamang po sa atin (I’m happy that we have our new boat. This is very expensive and yet, they’re just giving it away to us),” Abalos said. However, the cost of the vessel wasn’t mentioned.

The MMDA official expressed his gratitude to the NSJBI, which is headed by its chairman, Jose Acuzar. Abalos said the boat is “expected to augment the shortage of ferry boats for our day-to-day operations.” “Importante po ngayon ang mobility. Ngayon po hindi pa natin randam dahil hindi pa normal ang public transportation. May pandemic pa po tayo. Pero once mag-converge ang lahat, isipin niyo kung minsan, isang tao isang kotse. So kinakailangan, let’s look at the other modes of transportation (Mobility is important. We may not feel it so much now because public transportation has yet to normalize. We’re still in a pandemic. But once there is convergence, just think about it, sometimes there’s just one person inside one car. So we need to look at the other modes of transportation),” he said.

According to him, the Pasig River is often overlooked when it comes to available options for mass transportation.

In a statement, Acuzar said that the NJSBI is honored to be a part of the solution to alleviate heavy traffic.“The Pasig River Ferry Service is an effective alternative transportation that doesn’t just lessen the land vehicle volume but also promotes the beauty of the historic river,” he noted.

The PRFS accommodated a total of 436,931 passengers from April 2014 to October 2019, which, as Abalos lamented, could have been higher if not for the recurrent problem on water hyacinths that have often resulted to cancelled or limited trips.

 “We assure the public that we will continue to improve the ferry service for a comfortable and safe riding experience of the public,” he said.

The PRFS can cater to a total of 455 passengers with its current fleet of 11 vessels, each with 50 percent seating capacity in compliance with the directives of the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Abalos also said he plans to double the number of ferry boats, which would shorten passengers’ waiting time from one hour to 30 minutes.

On top of this, he intends to open the Napindan dockyard in Taguig and is also eyeing more routes to the ferry service that would ultimately interconnect Manila Bay, Pasig River, and Laguna Lake.