(File photo)

The City Council started drafting on Monday an ordinance that would implement stricter rules on trailer trucks and shipping companies to keep road users safe in Puerto Princesa.

This is after two container vans owned by Meridian Shipping and Container Carrier, Inc. (MSCCI) and Moreta Shipping Lines, Inc. (MSLI) fell from their trailer trucks while traversing the road on March 26.

While no one was hurt, the latest accidents that happened along the MP Road in Barangay San Miguel caused heavy traffic to the motorists.

“Ang nakikita kong ano [aksyon] namin diyan is magkaroon sila [the companies] ng safety officer talaga. Kinakailangang may safety officer [at dapat] meron silang clearance slip. Bago sila lumabas ng kanilang depot [o] ‘yong kanilang bodega, kinakailangan merong clearance slip na [nagpapatunay na] talagang secured [na ang container van sa likod ng truck],” City Council committee on transportation chairman councilor Rolando Amurao told Palawan News.

Amurao added they may also implement under this ordinance a speed limit for the trailer trucks carrying container vans.

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Through the City Council’s invitation, present in the plenary during the question hour were representatives from Moreta Trucking Services under MSCCI, United Truckers Association of Palawan (UTAP), Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc. (PCBSI), and the City Traffic Management Office (CTMO).

CTMO officer-in-charge Jonathan Magay said there were eight recorded incidents of container vans slipping and falling from their trailer truck since 2018.

He said four were recorded last year, and another four occurred just within the first quarter of 2019.

“Dalawa po [ang insidenteng may motoristang nabagsakan ng container vans], dalawa parehong 2018.  Dalawa ang nalaglagan, ang isa natin ay isang kotse, ang isa [naman] tora-tora. So dalawa na ang insidente o pangyayari na ‘yong container van ay nadaganan ‘yong ating mga sasakyan. The rest po napaka-suwerte walang nadamay. Awa ng Diyos po wala[ng nasawi sa dalawang nalaglagan] pero huwag na nating antayin talagang delikado,” said Magay.

Renato P. Valero, branch manager of PCBSI whose operations are within the port area, said they believe the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has imposed security measures already upon the trucks that conduct work within their jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, the PPA has no representative during the question hour.

Valero said each of the four twist-locks attached to the trailer truck has the capacity to firmly hold 20 tons of weight while each fully-loaded container van weighs only 30 tons.

He reiterated that these accidents only mean that the twist-locks of the vehicles were not fastened to the container vans.

“Ako po sa PCBSI, kami po ang cargo-handler. Ang operations po namin ay nasa loob [ng port area]. Mayroon kaming sinusunod na protocol na tinatawag natin na promulgated ito ng Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). Ito ay nakapaloob sa orange book na sinusundan namin. Nakalagay dito na ang lahat ng truck na magkakaroon ng permit to operate inside the port na inissue ng PPA dapat meron silang safety inpection certificate (SIT) na katunayan na sila ay in-inspect na ng PPA para ma-issue-han ng permit to operate inside the port… kaya po ina-assume namin na lahat ng mga truck na pumapasok diyan ay mayroong ganun,” said Valero.

Leandro Dongor, operations manager of the shipping department of MSCCI Puerto Princesa who represented their trucking department admitted that their company does not have safety officer to check whether the twist-locks were securely fastened to the container vans.

He noted that each truck has one driver and porter.

However, Dongor said they give the responsibility to the porter to secure the locks.

“Actually pag-pick up ng trucks, ‘yon ang gawain ng pahinante. Dapat ‘yon ang gawa ng pahinante na pag patong ng container sa trailer ‘yong pahinante ‘yong mag-secure niyan. Una may mga lapses doon sa trucks ‘yon palagay ko hindi naka-lock doon, pangalawa ‘yong mga wires na pino-problema ng mga trucking company natin dito kasi marami na talaga ‘yong mga wires na naka-cross sa kalsada. Tapos sa dami ng wires medyo nakalaylay na sa may daanan” said Dongor.

Dongor also defended it is not their company’s vehicle but a “third party trailer truck” that carried Moreta’s container van which fell along the MP Road.

UTAP president Jonathan Darwin Bandal said the March 26 incidents were really due to the loose wires along the roads.

“Sa report ng truckers, ‘yong wire nasabit ng container. ‘Yong wire na nasabitan ni Meridian, after one-hour dumaan ‘yong truck na may dala ng container ni Moreta, doon din sumabit sa wire na ‘yon,” said Bandal.

Magay, on the other hand, said loose cable wires will really cause trouble to the operations of these companies.

He added those two container vans were empty the time the accident happened that made it easier for them to slip off the truck.

Councilor Jimmy Carbonell who likened the trailer-trucks to  “moving coffins” said nothing is more important than to ensure the safety of the public.

“I am considering not only the application of safety locks but it also involves the driver’s alertness. Dahil kung merong driver’s error, natural doon sa pag-curve mo kung iresponsable o reckless ang driver, that could cause ‘yong aksidente na mahulog o mabagsak ‘yong ating mga container vans. That really poses great danger sa ating public. We do not want that to happen [in Puerto Princesa] as what had happened in Metro Manila,” said Carbonell.

Aside from the draft ordinance, vice mayor Luis Marcaida also reminded these trucking companies to exhibit “extraordinary diligence” in implementing safety measures.

He reiterated the life of the general public and road users is at stake in here.

“Hindi kasi ito katulad ng ordinaryo lang. Kapag cargo [at] lahat ng katulad nito dapat ay extra-ordinary diligence in hiring our drivers. ‘Pag napatunayan na ito ay vicarious liability, ibig-sabihin parehong owner and employer parehong mananagot doon sa mga mada-damage,” said Marcaida

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