'Undas' rush safe and smooth, says DOTC chief

Posted at 10/31/2012 9:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya said on Wednesday that this year’s All Saints’ Day rush has generally been “safe and smooth” so far, save for several road accidents involving buses.

“The reports that we’ve heard are the 2 fatal bus accidents. The LTFRB [Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board ] has executed what is in the policy of suspending particular routes and franchises of buses involved. Other than that, things have been smooth,” he told ANC’s “Prime Time”.

Thousands of travelers are expected to flock to various bus terminals, sea ports and airports across the country for the long weekend starting Thursday, November 1.

“We have deployed help desks to ensure that travelers, either first time or veteran travelers, who are having difficulties with the mad rush in ports and tollways, will have safe travel,” he said.

Abaya said aside from the inconvenience caused by traveling with thousands at the same time, “everything has been safe and smooth.”

Complaints of trip delays at sea ports were also reported, which Abaya attributed to a still “imperfect system.”

“Hopefully, those who were complaining were more of an exception rather than the rule. Hopefully, their wait wasn’t that long,” he said.

NAIA-3

Abaya also recently visited the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal (NAIA) 3, which the secretary hopes to be fully operational in 2013.

“We are quite optimistic that within one year of signing, hopefully by the month of November, so we could hopefully see a fully operational Terminal 3 before Christmas 2013,” he said.

Abaya said the airport is functioning, but not operating at its full capacity.

“Not obvious to a lot of people is not all systems are up and operational, we actually have 50% operational, we are making do with what we have. So we are engaging the previous general contractor and what we are really hoping for is that once we get an agreement signed, it will get Takenaka a year to commission and operational the whole of Terminal 3,” he said.

“We feel that once we get Takenaka to sign, a one-year period will be conservative from the DOTC’s point of view,” he added.

Abaya said the government is negotiating with Takenaka, a Japanese firm, for the installation of 20 of the 23 airport systems.

Not part of Takenaka’s contract are clocks and timing, baggage handling and loading bridges.