Last Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that transportation services at Metro Manila’s major land, air and sea terminals have considerably enhanced from conditions last year, but further improvements can still be done.
Manuel Roxas II, Transportation and Communicatons secretary, accompanied President Benigno Aquino III last Monday on an inspection tour at Cubao bus terminal, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Manila North Harbor.
According to Roxas, Mr. Aquino who made the same rounds last year has noted improvements at Cubao terminal, NAIA and North Harbor.
“Last year, there was really chaos. Now, people are queuing properly and we have more security measures,” Roxas uttered.
Before President Aquino leaves for Cambodia to attend the two-day 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit, he supervised the inspection first.
President Aquino told the reporters that he was there not only to assure that the security procedures is well executed at the terminals but also to ensure that terminals provides convenience and safety for departing passengers.
Even with the improvements, Secretary Roxas said that President Aquino still found numerous problems that he wants to be resolved as soon as possible.
“One problem that the President saw was that some of the urinals were not that clean. I will make sure that this is dealt with,” Roxas said.
The President’s inspection began at Manila’s North Harbor, the country’s busiest domestic terminal at around 10 o’clock in the morning.
A commercial vessel with a capacity of 1,929 passengers that was docked at Pier 2 and scheduled to depart at 3 o’clock in the afternoon namely MV St. Michael Archangel, was boarded by President Aquino together with Secretary Roxas and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
The ship’s route is at Misamis Oriental province, with stops at Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.
President Aquino and Secretary Roxas were satisfied with what they saw. They’ve found out that the vessel had enough life jackets, life rings, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.
Data from the Coast Guard presented that more than 147,000 passengers lodged over 1,000 vessels that navigated to several destinations nationwide over the past 24 hours (from 6 a.m., April 1 to 6 a.m. April 2).
Around 11 a.m., Mr. Aquino was at NAIA Terminal 3. The president accompanied one passenger to check how long the travelers had to fall in line outside the terminal before they could get inside the building.
“Our benchmark is that it should take a passenger 10 minutes at most to get into the terminal,” Roxas told the reporters.
“The Presidential Security Group (PSG) was already telling the President to get inside because he was exposed outside the terminal. But he wanted to see for himself. Fortunately, it only took them 5 minutes,” he added.
“It looked like they met their objectives,” President Aquino told the reporters.
“We are gradually improving facilities in the airport to better serve our people, especially during occasions like the observance of Holy Week,” Roxas said.
Cubao bus terminal
“We want to advise our people to allot more time when they travel this Lenten season. They shouldn’t make their travel plans at the last minute to avoid crowds and reach their destinations as planned.”
President Aquino had lunch with top airport administrators before leaving for the Cubao bus terminal inspection.
He arrived approximately 1 p.m. at the Cubao bus terminal for a 30-minute inspection. The land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) established a random drug-testing center.
Also at the bus terminal, LTFRB organized a pre-departure briefing for around 30 drivers, 11 of them were also subjected to breath analyzer tests to check if they had been engaged to drinking. All the drivers offered themselves for drug testing.
The random drug testing prepared last year by LTFRB for bus drivers has become a regular part of the “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe (Safe Journey)”, a program to ensure safe travel during Lenten season.
“We are making random drug testing a regular part of our ‘Ligtas Biyahe’ program to make sure our bus drivers are fit to bring passengers to their destinations safely,” Roxas said. “We are doing this to ensure the safety of our bosses: the travelers.”
President Aquino said that the procedures at the bus terminal were “more systematized, and all the passengers I spoke to were smiling.”
Also the President noted that even the traffic on EDSA was easier. “So far I am much happier and I am confident that the preparations were all good,” he said.