Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

30,000 families to be relocated in Bicol train rehab

December 13, 2008

It’s like Rip Van Winkle coming out from sleep. At last, the plan to repair the Philippine National Railways (PNR) from Laguna to Legazpi City is alive again. For the project to push, it will require the relocation of 30,000 families settled on the 15-meter clearance of the train’s path.

The government plan is definite good news to Bicol, but it’s mind-bending why only now will repairs be undertaken. The train plying the southern end of Luzon is different from how it looked decades ago as it meandered in the craggy mountainsides of Quezon Province to the foot of Mount Isarog in Camarines Sur and Mayon in Albay. Huge numbers of people have already crowded the tracks, the 483-kilometer stretch from Manila.

Vital to travel in the Bicol region and the rest of the country, the PNR had been largely neglected. It practically operated in meager maintenance budget even if plans to extend the line, about 135 kilometers from Legazpi to Sorsogon had been on the works.

Wooden planks and metal supports on the transportation line were continual victims of thieves who used them as firewood or sell them as scraps. For many years, almost nobody took action for their upkeep, to the disappointment of Bicolanos. The yearly torrential rains caused infrastructure damage. The government did little to prevent people from building houses along the railway tracks.

This early the concern for the legal rights of the squatters has been raised. Human rights groups are pushing for standard eviction amenities. The enormity of the problem causes some interested investors to back out of the project.

“Jun de la Torre, Community Organization of the Philippines (COPE) assistant regional coordinator said they have strengthened their social preparation efforts in favor of the railway settlers by collaborating with 10-federation strong Bicol Urban Poor Coordinating Council (BUPCC) headed by Lorna Chavez to ensure that the rights of these affected settlers would not be derailed when the PNR rehabilitation project starts in the near future.” Bicol Mail, (12/12/08, Neola, J)

The project is rocked with questionable political deals. P17 billion has been allotted to remove the illegal dwellers on the dangerous tracks. It constitutes a third of the total budget of P52.19—the cost of the much delayed project which was earlier scheduled in 2005 to 2011.

It is uncertain when the money will come or if it is adequate. With the postponements that go with government projects, at this time, the railway rehabilitation remains a dream for Bicolanos. (Photo Credits: Orangedroplet; Alcogoodwin; Alcogoodwin; orangedroplet)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Life on the railway tracks & the fate of Isadora Duncan” Posted on Friday September 12th, 2008

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Bamboo Car

November 18, 2008

To help control global warming and lessen pollution, the BamGoo, an electric car made of bamboo, a versatile plant of the grass family is crafted in Japan. The “ecology-friendly” vehicle on a single charge can run for about 50 kilometers (30 miles)—TrendHunter.com (11/03/08)

RP’s maritime disasters: a harvest of blame and shame

November 7, 2008

The frequent maritime disasters in the Philippines make us look back and ponder what the country can do to prepare itself for the next sea tragedy. In Umalohokan (06/22/08, Fabonan, E) a Philippine Normal University blogsite, a review of the horrible sea disasters has been written, some of them incredibly disgusting. (see below.)

It’s amazing how the Philippine government, the coast guard, and maritime authorities don’t do enough to answer the demand of the public for a safer sea travel. This month, the latest sinking involves passenger boat Rolly IV on its way to the island of Mailoglog in Iloilo on November 6, 2008. Nine (9) passengers perished.

Two days before on November 4, 2008, ML Don Dexter Cathlyn sank in Masbate with more than 40 poor passengers dead. Recalling those who perished in the shipwrecks, here is the harvest of blame and shame which must rattle the conscience of those responsible. People who died and were lost at sea cry, ever strong than the waves, asking for justice and accountability.

1. December 20, 1987 – MV Dona Paz: Colliding with tanker Vector in Tablas Strait, the ship’s sinking in the Philippines is believed to be the world’s worst maritime disaster in modern history. Although the ships report a lower death toll at 4,375, the official number of those who died is 1,565. The 1,568 listed on the manifest is more than the licensed maximum of 1,518—suggeting overcrowding.

2. October 24, 1988 – MV Dona Marilyn: A sister ship of MV Dona Paz, this ship is owned by Sulpicio Lines. Bound for Cebu, the ship left Manila, later plunged down the seafloor and killed 254 people on October 24, 1988 during a typhoon.

3. December 2, 1994 – MV Cebu City: In December 2, 1994, the ferry sank in Manila Bay after a collision with Singaporean freighter Kota Suria claiming 140 lives. The Philippine Coast Guard ruled that the crew was accountable. The collision could have been averted if the Cebu City crew obeyed a call from Kota Suria to turn right. Instead, but the ship erroneously turned left and crossed Kota Suria’s path.

4. December 13, 1995 – MV Kimelody Cristy: A passenger ferry owned by Moreta Shipping Lines Inc. which was gutted by fire and went aground on its way to Mindoro. 17 people died and 16 were missing. Investigation disclosed the ship had only a provisional authority from MARINA officials to operate..

5. September 20, 1998 – MV Princess of the Orient: Another passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Lines. On its way to Cebu City from Manila, it sank killing 150 people. The ship reportedly left the port of Manila even as a typhoon signal has been declared in the city.

6. December 23, 1999 – MV Asia South Korea: A passenger ferry owned by Trans-Asia Shipping Lines. On its way to Iloilo City from Cebu City during the Christmas holiday rush. It sank off Bantayan Island in Cebu province killing 44 people. The number of passengers exceeded the total capacity the ferry which left port even if authorities forbid the travel because of a storm.

7. February 25, 2000 – MV Our Lady of Mediatrix: This passenger ferry caught fire as it was about to dock. Two bombs rigged inside three buses on-board exploded killing 45 people. The government to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF.) for the incident.

8. April 12, 2000 – ML Annahada: A merchant launch sank off Sulu, Philippines on April 12, 2000; due to overloading; Of the 150 to 200 passengers onboard, 56 people were reportedly killed and over 100 missing. Most of the passengers were reportedly illegal migrants on their way to Tawi-Tawi which then serves as gateway to Malaysia and Indonesia.

9. April 11, 2002 – MV Maria Carmela: Owned by Montenegro Shipping Lines, the ship left Masbate port on April 10. 2002 but caught fire just an hour away from Lucena, Quezon, its destination. Of the 290 passengers and crew, 23 were killed and 27 reported missing.

10. May 26, 2003 – MV San Nicolas: The merchant vessel collided with WGA Superferry 12 off the coast of Corregidor Island on May 26, 2003 during an stormy weather. Of the 203 passengers, 39 people were killed; serious errors and negligence were blamed as the cause of the collision.

11. February 27, 2004 – WGA Superferry 14: Ferry operated by the WG&A Consortium which sank of the coast of Corregidor Island on February 27, 2004 after an explosion, killing at least 100 of the 899 passengers and crew. Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf was reported responsible for the incident.

12. June 10, 2007 – MV Cathlyn-D: Ship operated by San Nicolas Shipping which went under off Paluan Bay in Mindoro Occidental province after catching fire; out of 260 passengers, 5 people were killed; negligence was to blame. The ships in the company’s fleet were temporarily grounded.

13. June 22, 2008 – MV Princess of the Stars: The passenger ferry owned by Sulpicio Linest sank off San Fernando town in Sibuyan Island, Romblon Province. The ferry was bound for Cebu City from Manila during Typhoon Frank. It ran aground killing 823 passengers. The illegal endosulfan toxic cargo has been recovered. Retrieval of bodies is still ongoing.

14. Novermber 4, 2008- ML Don Dexter Cathlyn: The inter-island ferry sank on its way from Masbate to Sorsogon in Bicol. Inconsistent to the official number of passengers in the manifest, at least forty-two persons (42) were reported to have died, seventy-six (76) had been rescued, and thirteen (13) were unaccounted for. The bodies included 25 women, 5 men, and 4 children between ages 1 to 4. They were displayed in the town plaza for grieving relatives to identify,

15. November 6, 2008—Motor Launch Rolly IV: The ferry sank killing 9 people as it cruised to Mailoglog, Iloilo during inclement weather. As of November 8, fatalities rose to 13 people. Photo Credits: Umalohokan.blogspot; Bullit Marquez/AP; AP)=0=


RELATED BLOGS:Ferry boat sinks in Masbate killing 40” Posted by mesiamd at 11/04/2008; “Boat mishap in Iloilo, 9 dead” Posted by mesiamd at 11/06/2008; “The need for witnesses in the Princess of the Stars toxic chemical recovery” Posted by mesiamd at 9/25/2008; “Endosulfan safely retrieved: where are the other toxic chemicals?” Posted by mesiamd at 10/07/2008 ;”Toxic Cargo” Posted by mesiamd at 6/28/2008.

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Riding the Pakistani Orient Express

November 3, 2008


It was a good day to ride a train. After a religious pilgrimage, Pakistani Muslims of the Sunni sect did just that on their way home. Every passenger had a special spot on the jampacked train as it snaked its way, precisely right on its track. Thousands jammed Multan, Pakistan for a three-day event which concluded on Sunday, November 2, 2008.

The scene seems to be lifted from an interesting page of the Guinness World Records. It’s note-worthy that overcrowding and potential accident situations in public transport are innocuous but real in many places in the world. (Photo Credit: AP/Tanveer, K)