Consider increasing speed limit of vessels, PPA appeals amid congestion in ports

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is seeking to increase the speed limit of ferries and other ships in a bid to decongest passengers and vehicles in various ports in the country.

Increased speed limit means faster travel time and turnaround time for ships which translates to more passengers and vehicles reaching their destination, according to PPA General Manager Jay Santiago.

PPA General Manager Jay Santiago visits the Batangas International Port amid reports of congestion due to Christmas season exodus. (photo: PPA)

"We are calling on the shipping owners and government regulatory agencies like the MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) and the Philippine Coast Guard to meet and discuss possible adjustments in determining the optimum speed without sacrificing safety," said Santiago during his inspection at the Batangas International Port.

"If it is possible, perhaps we can allow it at least during Holidays amid the large number of passengers and vehicles lining up to board in our ports," he added.

In Batangas Port for instance, Santiago said there are at least 200 10-wheeler trucks queueing everyday aside from hundreds of passenger buses and private vehicles.

He said that there are only 13 passenger vessels operating at the Batangas Port, the destination is mostly to Mindoro Island, which means there are only 36 to 39 trips per day.

Santiago said the number of trips could not accommodate thousands of passengers and vehicles that flock to the port for the Christmas season. The same scenario, he said, also happens in 24 other ports under the PPA.

photo: PPA

Based on the PPA data, the average number of passengers in 25 ports under PPA has already reached 50,400 since Dec. 18.

At the Batangas International Port, the number of outbound passengers was almost 19,000 on Friday, Dec. 23.

He said they expect the number of passengers to be the same during the first week of January next year.

Santiago said one of the solutions is to increase the maximum speed of vessels to speed up the travel and turnaround time.

Currently, the PPA said passenger vessels only hit seven to 10 knots ( 1 knot is equivalent to 1.85 kilometers per hour) and Santiago said discussions could be done to increase up to 15 knots. The limitation on speed depends on the design and age of the passenger vessels.

"So we really appeal to ship owners and PCG and the MARINA to consider this for the sake of thousands of our kababayans who just want to go to their hometowns and celebrate Christmas and New Year with their family," said Santiago.