THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has lifted the indefinite suspension of the motor banca operations in Iloilo-Guimaras route, which was suspended after the sea tragedy that claimed at least 31 lives on August 3.
In a memorandum dated August 13, Regional Director Jose Venancio Vero Jr. told all concerned operators the suspension was lifted but subject to a listed conditions.
Based on the orders of Marina Officer in Charge-Administrator Narciso Vingzon Jr., the memo said the lifting of the suspension was to ease the struggles of the stranded passengers in Guimaras.
It also said motor banca operators must abide by the following conditions: passengers should wear life jackets at all times throughout the voyage; motorbancas should carry passengers up to 75 percent of their authorized capacity only; and the tarpaulins/ canvas shall either be rolled up or removed.
The memo also said the operations of motor bancas shall be during fair weather only, and wind not more than Force 3 of the Beaufort scale (7 to 10 knots) and the wave height is not more than 0.5 meters, and the motor bancas shall be equipped with distress signals and equipment.
Days after the sea tragedy, Marina imposed a temporary ban of motor banca operations and directed roll-on/roll-off vessels to cater to sea passengers in the affected area. Marina, however, said this was not enough, because it received reports of stranded passengers.
The tragedy has also placed personnel of Marina and Philippine Coast Guard under floating status through the orders of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade Jr. to give way to a fair and thorough investigation.