Effects of COVID-19 on Philippine Shipping Operations

The enhanced community quarantine and lockdown measures imposed in response to COVID-19 have had quite significant effects on various operations in different industries. The shipping field is no different, with more than half of the operations experiencing delays, cancellations, or incompletion because of the quarantine protocols laying out limitations for travel and transportation. The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) gathered data from the operations during the latter half of March.

According to MARINA, the percentage of the operations that were affected by said protocols was 53%. These included both cargo and passenger ships. Additionally, between cargo and passenger operations, the former fared better with about 83% going off without a hitch. In contrast, only 33% of passenger vessels were able to complete their operations normally.

Going into the specifics, the data revealed that on a daily basis, the average numbers were the following: 101 completed properly, 94 cancelled, 15 delayed, and 5 not finished.

MARINA explained that each of the three setbacks mentioned generally had a factor that contributed to them happening. The restrictions in the ports because of the lockdown were the main reason for the cancelled trips. For those that had delays, it was mostly due to inspections, congestion, and other ships taking priority. For the incomplete voyages, the main factor was either due to the journey still in progress or issues when docking.

Despite these challenges, MARINA assured that the necessary supplies will still be delivered despite the restrictions.

Overall, there were 3,416 shipping operations from March 16 to 31, consisting of 2,446 passenger vessels and 970 cargo ships.

Now more than ever, it’s important for such operations to continue so that people in quarantine can survive while the frontliners do their best to combat and stop the spread. And in the future, how the maritime industry responds to such crises of this scale should be part of the basic training for seamen so aspiring seafarers can be prepared in case of a similar pandemic.

(Philippine Canadian Inquirer)

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