Home » Maritime, Press Releases » SuperFerry resumes passenger and cargo operations

SuperFerry has resumed operations after a brief suspension meted out by the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) over the weekend.

Officials of the company decried the undue haste and arbitrariness of the suspension of the entire fleet which led the company to incur substantial losses from claims of shippers whose perishable cargoes were not delivered. To make matters worse, large volume shippers have threatened to pull out booked cargoes as questions linger on the capability of the shipping company to deliver its time-sensitive shipment to customers, during the period of suspension.

The passenger business was also adversely affected as thousands demanded ticket refunds. Schedules of group travelers were disrupted as a result of the 26-hour interruption of vessel operations arising from an alleged incident with local fishermen off Sarangani.

An unlit and unpowered banca was said to have clashed with a vessel of the company. In a news report, Superintendent Edgard Cuanan, chief of the police’s maritime unit in Central Mindanao said their patrolling personnel sent out light and sound signals to fishing boats in the area to warn them about the passing vessel.

“It appears that the fishermen were not familiar with the basic warning signals about oncoming ships.” Cuanan added, indicating that the fishermen were to blame for the accident.

“Under the rules, small vessels must always give way to bigger ones.  Another mistake of the banca operator was that there was no distress light or signal that could have alerted the bigger ship,” Cuanan explained.

While the earlier investigation clearly faulted the banca, SuperFerry management has questioned the hastily enforced suspension order on the entire fleet, an unjust act deemed unfriendly to business. The vessels were eventually allowed to sail after an exhaustive safety audit by MARINA revealed that “the fleet had no negative findings and was found to be fully compliant with national and international safety management systems.”

Sulficio O. Tagud, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Negros Navigation-ATS Consolidated Inc said the result of the MARINA audit only proved that there was no safety issue to begin with. The allegation did not merit suspension of the entire fleet.

The temporary grounding included five SuperFerry vessels and three Cebu Ferries, all of which were not even involved in the Sarangani Bay incident.

NN-ATS officials are puzzled by the abrupt ruling from MARINA. Tagud questioned why the suspension was meted out in the first place. “At the most, only one vessel should have been slapped with suspension,” Tagud pointed out.

“Though we are relieved that MARINA has lifted the suspension order, NN-ATS expresses its extreme displeasure over the lack of due process accorded by the regulatory body. Such arbitrary move unduly alarmed a vast number of cargo shippers and passengers in our ports of operation and this could trigger an unsavory ripple effect in the industry” Tagud continued.

The NN-ATS executive concludes saying: “Marina is expected to administer clear written policies and other formal guidelines for the shipping and cargo industry and not resort to hasty negative actions against any of its supervised companies. In addition, part of its mandate is to foster the development of the industry and encourage investment rather than foist negative impressions among would be investors.”

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