To prepare for the influx of passengers during the Lenten season, the Philippine Department of Transportation (DOTr) has ordered the Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2017 activated, directing all sectoral offices and attached agencies to be on heightened alert to ensure the safety and security of passengers at airports, seaports, and other transportation hubs.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade likewise enjoined all frontline agencies to implement 24/7 operations at their action and operations centers and ensure direct communication lines with the DOTr’s Public Concerns Action Center. Further, he instructed them to keep all booths, counters, and centers serving passengers properly manned during all operating hours to prevent heavy queueing.
Land and rail operations
The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will conduct inspections of buses to check their road worthiness and the safety of passengers. It will also put up help desks at terminals.
In addition, LTFRB has issued 1,153 special permits to bus operators to accommodate the expected increase in the number of passengers.
The Toll Regulatory Board will deploy additional personnel at toll plazas where traffic buildup is expected. If toll plaza queuing reaches 500 meters, reversible and additional entry or exit lanes will be opened and vehicular counter flow may be facilitated. Emergency medical teams, water trucks, and tow trucks will be deployed for prompt response to road accidents.
All road works and construction activities on expressways, except ongoing major road infrastructure projects, are suspended from April 12 to April 17.
Meanwhile, all three metro rail systems in Metro Manila—Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, and Metro Rail Transit 3—will have no operations from April 13 to April 16 to make way for yearly maintenance work. Operations resume on April 17.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has committed to assist the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in managing queues at immigration counters. Passengers who are about to board and those with connecting flights will be prioritized to avoid missed flights.
An MIAA management team will be on duty from April 8 to April 16 to ensure smooth passenger flow. A two-minute unloading rule will be implemented to prevent congestion.
Passengers are to be given free bottled water at NAIA boarding gates. They may also seek assistance from help desks manned by the MIAA operations group, airport police, and medical team.
Meantime, the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) has created a task force to supervise security and safety operations during Holy Week. Airport police will be placed on red alert, information and public assistance counters activated, taxi complaint slips distributed to cab passengers, and the convenience of passengers ensured at all times.
Tugade likewise directed the Office for Transportation Security to fully man all x-ray equipment at the initial and final checking areas.
The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will conduct a nationwide random inspection of passenger ships from April 7 to April 17 to ensure that rules and regulations are complied with, particularly the “no overloading of passengers and cargoes” policy. At the same time, strict security protocols are to be strictly enforced.
The Philippine Ports Authority, on the other hand, has directed its port managers, cargo handling operators, and passenger terminal building operators to enhance the security, safety, and convenience of passengers. Passengers will be strictly screened, while ship agents are required to regularly update ship arrival and departure schedules. First aid services will be made available at ports on a 24/7 schedule.
DPWH motorist assistance
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is once again mobilizing its Motorist Assistance Teams to help motorists and commuters during the Lenten season.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has directed all regional and district engineering offices nationwide to reactivate the Lakbay-Alalay Program, which runs from April 10 to April 17.
Uniformed motorist assistance teams will provide prompt assistance in normal and emergency situations in strategic locations along major thoroughfares round-the-clock. They have been directed to coordinate with the Land Transportation Office, Philippine National Police, local government units, and other government agencies for any assistance required.
Before Holy Week, DPWH maintenance teams were deployed all over the country to ensure that national roads are well-maintained and free from potholes, have reflectorized pavement markings, and have legible kilometer posts and directional signs. Roads with ongoing construction works were also checked to make sure proper warning signs are installed.
In the Bicol Region, maintenance engineers have been instructed to install traffic advisories indicating alternate routes in order for motorists to bypass areas that have ongoing projects.
DPWH Region 5 reported that a total of 31 motorist assistance centers are set to be installed along strategic areas of the national road in the Bicol Region, consisting of 12 in the mainland provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon; and 19 in the island provinces of Catanduanes and Masbate.
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net