SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Aug) – The city council here is set to conduct investigations on the supposed irregularities at the Surigao Boulevard Port after a series of mishaps occurred last week, which include trucks and heavy equipment plunging into the sea.
The area is being used as docking area for outrigger motorized bancas plying routes to Dinagat Island, Siargao Island and the city’s island villages.
City Councilor Jose Begil Jr. told reporters on Monday they would call all the boat transport groups and owners, all concerned government line agencies – which include the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) – and all arrastre and stevedoring services operating at the boulevard and other concerned parties to shed light on the irregularities.
Begil’s announcement came after a series of mishaps that happened at the boulevard last week.
One incident involved the unregistered boat M/L Roy Sea Star, whose hull collapsed while loading a 10-wheeler truck full of construction materials.
Also last week, a boom truck, as well as the heavy machinery it was loading into a passenger boat, fell into the sea.
Last month, two trucks owned by mining companies also plummeted into the sea as these were being loaded on a boat for Dinagat, according to Chamber of Mines president Dulmar Raagas.
Begil, who chairs the committee on transportation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, said the investigation will also look into reports that some Coast Guard employees are being bribed by some boat owners to clear their vessels for departure.
Begil said cargoes such as machines, vehicles and construction materials are not supposed to be loaded on the passenger boats based on the certificate on public conveyance issued by MARINA.
He said the boulevard is not under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Port Authority but by the city government.
“As far as safety of lives and properties at the seas is concerned, we should look at it seriously,” the councilor said.
He said he was surprised why unlicensed boats are allowed to take in passengers at the boulevard.
Zenmond D. Duque, station commander of the Philippine Coast Guard in this city, denied that his office and his men are taking bribes.
But he admitted that there are some boats plying the route without license, but these are operating mostly at night.
“I call on the public to help us find these unlicensed or undocumented boats,” Duque said, at the same time urging passengers to avoid those boats.