Boracay boat coop braces for modernization

Boy Ryan B. Zabal
The Maritime Industry Authority urges all boat operators plying the Caticlan-Boarcay and Tabon-Boracay routes to phase out wooden-hauled vessels

WOODEN. File photo of a wooden-hauled boat going to Boracay. Photo by Boy Ryan Zabal/Rappler

AKLAN, Philippines – The Caticlan-Boracay Transport Multi-purpose Cooperative (CBTMPC), which operates boats that transports people to the island resort, is preparing to implement the government’s ongoing Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program.

The transport cooperative has at present 58 wooden-hauled boats and 11 fiber glass boats operating 24/7 for Caticlan-Boracay route or the Tabon-Boracay route.

Last June 21, the Department of Transportation (DoTr), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) together with the Office of Transport Cooperatives and Land Transportation Office (LTO) conducted an orientation on the government-proposed boat modernization program in Malay, Aklan.

All boat owners have no choice but to accept the challenge to modernize their fleet of wooden-hauled boats. In its Circular No. 2016-02, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) urged all transport groups to phase out wooden-hauled vessels carrying passengers in domestic shipping.

Last February, the transport cooperative and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Aklan proposed to Marina a five-year (2019-2023) gradual phase-out period to comply with the circular.

CBTMPC chairman Godofredo Sadiasa said their group also committed to Marina to modernize 25 fiber glass boats before their franchise expires on 2021.

“If we don’t take the chance to gradually modernize our existing fleet, other companies might operate in our present routes,” Sadiasa said on Friday, June 21.

A fiber glass boats costs about P5.2-million. The cooperative is targetting to operate 4 more fiber glass units this year.

The cooperative said it would unveil by July a 60-seater fiber glass boat worth P7.5-million as part of the scheme for safer and modernized public transport between Boracay Island and mainland Malay.

“At first, boat owners were apprehensive of the modernization plan, but society is evolving. Darating ang pagbabago sa transport sa Boracay (Change is coming in Boracay public transport) and we have to think about it…gradually itong boat owners will realize that habang may dagat may hanapbuhay tayo (as long as there is the sea we have a livelihood),” he said.

Sadiasa said the phasing out of wooden-hauled boats in Malay, Aklan will have adverse impact on livelihood and finances of boat owners and employees. At present, CBTMPC has 4,000 members and around 400 boatmen who derive their incomes from the tourism business.

Still, Sadiasa expressed hope that boat owners and the cooperative would be able to secure assistance from government banks, through loans, to start the modernization.

Aside from boat operations, CBTMPC also expanded its ‘hanapbuhay’ with chicken and hog farming in Cubay Sur in mainland Malay and land transport with 138 van units operating in Panay, primarily in Kalibo, Caticlan and Iloilo. –