Yearender: DOTC: Its thrusts and strategies

January 2, 2010 12:32 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 2 — For over a century and a decade of public service, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) plays a vital role in accelerating the nation’s economic development.

It provides the backbone for growth and enhances the country’s competitive edge through efficient, effective and secured transport and communications infrastructure, as well as by introducing innovations, management directions, policies, strategies and projects, all compliant with international standards and responsive in the changing times.

The DOTC, through the leadership of Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza, has implemented a number of programs and projects to attain the development strategy laid down by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to buttress and strengthen the country’s economy.

CIVIL AVIATION

Reforms were implemented and one significant positive action was the enactment in March 2008 of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The creation of the CAAP ‘will update and strengthen the international framework of the country’s civil aviation industry and meet the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Airports were built, improved, modernized and upgraded to international standards to provide access to tourism destinations and improved air travel.

A total of 29 airports nationwide are being modernized to accommodate bigger aircraft and the increasing passenger traffic.

Among the airports are the Bacolod-Silay Airport, the Busuanga Airport. Caticlan Airport, Puerto Princesa, Siargao, and La Union International Airport.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 (NAIA-IPT 3) started its operation with eight domestic flights from Cebu Pacific Air, followed by PAL Express and Air Philippines.

The growth in international passenger traffic has added impetus to the Air Services Agreement (ASA) negotiations with other countries. Last year, 14 air services negotiations had been completed which resulted in substantial increase in capacity entitlements for passenger and cargo services, making available additional seat capacities for the country's airlines and greater access to tourism destinations.

As part of the country’s commitments to the ASEAN in order to enhance the capabilities and professionalism of the ASEAN member countries’ respective aircraft investigators and strengthen, promote and develop cooperation to enhance aviation safety, authorities of ASEAN member countries signed on May 29, 2009, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Cooperation Relating to Aircraft Accident and Incidents Investigations.

RAILWAYS

Last year, once again, has proven the very significant role of the railways sector in improving the lives of the Filipino people. With the prices of oil-based fuels skyrocketing to new highs, people from all walks of life in Metro Manila have shifted to ride the light rail systems -– Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1, Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2, Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, and even the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Commuter Railways.

More than one million passengers daily have benefited from using the light rail systems, which resulted in significant increase in both passengers time savings and motor vehicles operating-cost savings.

Meanwhile, the government is pursuing high-impact railways projects in an effort to complete the projects embodied in the National Railway Master Plan. For year 2009, the notable accomplishments for the railway sector include the following:

–The vision to finally close the LRT 1–MRT 3 loop will soon become a reality. The construction of the Line 1 North Extension Project (Closing the MRT 3 and LRT Line 1 Loop) officially started on June 12, 2008.

The project involves the construction of a 5.71- kilometer elevated light rail line from the Monumento Station of LRT Line 1 in Caloocan City to the North Avenue Station of MRT 3 in Quezon City.

The project will connect LRT Line 1 and MRT 3, thereby, completing the loop that runs through the cities of Caloocan, Manila, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig and Quezon. This would enable seamless travel through the major cities of Metro Manila. The project, costing about P6.322 billion, is targeted for completion in May 2010.

The Northrail–Southrail Linkage Project (Caloocan-Alabang), which refers to the Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Manila Commuter Railways, runs from Caloocan City to Alabang, Muntinlupa. The project, which was started in 2007, is already 45 percent complete. Inauguration is expected in 2010. The project seeks to rehabilitate a 34-kilometer commuter rail line.

This project will also pave the way for the completion of the whole stretch of the old PNR South Commuter Railway form Caloocan to Calamba (56-kilometer railway). So far, 75 percent of the informal settlers along the railway track (around 25,000 out of more than 34,000 families) have been relocated. The project cost is about US$ 50.42 million funded by the Korean Export-Import Bank (KEXIM).

For the proposed MRT 7 (North Avenue-Commonwealth-Quirino (Novaliches)-San Jose Del Monte) Project, the Build-Gradual Transfer-Operate-Maintain (BGTOM) contract for the 23-kilometer, US$ 1.235-billion rail and road project was signed on June 18, 2008 between the DOTC and Universal LRT Corporation (ULC).

The private proponent ULC is now in the process of securing financial investors for the mega project, which it expects to attain within 18 months upon contract signing. Construction is targeted to start in early 2010.

The DOTC will continue to improve railway operations and will pursue railway development programs in areas of expansion, extension, rehabilitation, construction and development of new railway lines.

ROAD TRANSPORTATION

The year 2009 was a challenging year for the road transportation sector. The prices of fossil fuels in the world market escalated until THE third quarter of the year. There was also a greater concern on climate change where smoke emission from motor vehicles is one of the factors. Road safety concerns grew as the World Health Organization (WHO) cited that road accident is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

The Philippine government and the DOTC formulated and implemented programs and projects to ease the impact of the unabated increase in fuel prices, lessen motor vehicle emission, and mitigate road accidents.

The transport sector accounts for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thus, the DOTC has encouraged public transport operators to use alternative fuels and convert their units to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)–fed engines. To date, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had approved a total of 17,545 taxi units.

COMMUNICATIONS

Communications is vital to nation-building. It links people all over the country and the world with one another in real time. This allow economic activities to grow because of the high speed connectivity and exchange of information which is very essential in improving the quality of products and services.

In the Philippines, broadband service looms to be the next growth area for telecommunications companies which have started offering their broadband services to the public. The country, in fact, is ready for a broadband explosion as the fundamentals appear sound to propel the country to the ranks of Asian countries that have embraced broadband technology.

MARITIME TRANSPORT

The maritime transport is vital in the country’s economic buildup. Majority of trade and commerce are carried by sea carriage owing to the archipelagic naure of the country.

Thus, to connect the islands, the government has implemented the Roll-On/Roll-Off Transport Systems (RRTS) or the Strong Republic Nautical Highways (SRNH).

The DOTC, through its sectoral agencies, will secure the compliance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and the International Ship and Port Security Code.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to sign soon the new Coast Guard Law that would delineate the overlapping functions of the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority and other agencies regulating the maritime industry.

TRANSPORTATION SECURITY

The Office for Transportation Security (OTS) has the following major accomplishments:

–The neutralization and apprehension, in coordination with elements of the PNP-Police Regional Office 9, of the Abu Sayyaf Group subleader Usamn Asari at the vicinity of Zamboanga City wharf on January 11, 2009.

–The OTS has processed and screened a total of 45,288,577 outbound passengers for 137,291 international and domestic flights, as well as 1,018,722,523 kilograms of air cargo and 45,872,891 pieces of check-in luggage.

–It has conducted 34 inspection audits and surveys of airports, security scanning equipment and personnel; noted and referred to concerned agencies for appropriate action 28 aviation security violations; and conducted verification and audit of 81 ships and 57 ports. Out of this number, 23 ports and 56 ships were approved for the issuance/renewal of Statement of Compliance of a Port Facility (SCPF) and International Ship Security Certificate/National Ship Security Certificate (ISSC/NSSC), respectively.

–It has enhanced security control measures at the different airports through the acquisition/installation of 17 X-ray machines, gas masks, binoculars and vision goggles. (PNA Features) scs/LBV

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