RP govt suspends operation of Trans-Asia vessels

By Florence F. Hibionada

ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES – Operation of nine vessels of the Trans-Asia Shipping Lines has been suspended following Sunday’s sinking of M/V Asia Malaysia off Iloilo waters. While at it, more orders are out demanding explanation from said shipping company alongside further suspension of Seaman’s Books of all of M/V Asia Malaysia officers and crew.

The order was issued by Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Emerson Lorenzo and disclosed in Tuesday’s briefing called by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here.

As such, back to home port of Cebu are eight Trans-Asia passenger vessels M/V Asia Indonesia, M/V Asia Japan, M/V Asia Philippines, M/V Asia China, M/V Trans-Asia, M/V Trans-Asia II, M/V Trans-Asia 3, M/V Trans-Asia 5 and the cargo vessel, M/V Asia Pacific.

The suspension, MARINA official statement went, will only be lifted “once they have satisfactorily complied and passed the additional International Safety Management (ISM) Code audit and re-inspection to be conducted by MARINA Regional Office VII in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard.”

The official explanation on the other hand must be in “in writing within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt” with the MARINA giving Trans-Asia the burden to justify continued operations.

Explain, MARINA ordered, “why the Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC) of the company shall not be suspended or revoked for its failure to comply with the operational and safety standards for vessels set by applicable conventions and regulations resulting in the above incident.”

Meantime, company vessels not in Cebu port were permitted to return to Cebu including Tuesday’s 6pm scheduled trip from Iloilo City.

“However, they will not be allowed to sail again unless they have passed the re-inspection,” the MARINA order continued.

The compliance of Trans-Asia is expected to be heard on Friday’s hearing “show-cause order” at the MARINA Regional office VII in Cebu City.