Finally, a ‘new’ Tacloban airport
The Inquirer yesterday carried a one-page advertisement from Dept. Of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), inviting interested parties to join in the ‘open and transparent’ bidding process for the P319 million Tacloban and Dipolog Airports development project.
Approved budget for the contract exclusively for Tacloban airport is P251,633,801.74, this for airside developments components like the construction of new apron an taxiway, completion of North-East Shore Protection with shoulder grade correction, construction of drainage system with box culvert and of temporary transition, among others.
Indeed Tacloban airport, being the 8th busiest airport in the country, needs the necessary development. Accordingly in 2011, the airport posted for the first time 1 million total passenger traffic. Reportedly also the airport has already reached a total of 608,769 passengers in just six months this year. Now the airport has around five airlines companies operating and 17 daily flights (Manila-Tacloban-Manila).
As this develops the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the region has also pointed out some issues and concerns which when addressed can help improve the ‘airport’s facilities, layout and services’ while the development project is underway. These issues and concerns however are not only addressed to Civil Aviation Authorities in the Philippines (CAAP) officials, security and safety officers, transport services/porters and porterage operators, LTFRB, LTO, and visitor counter clerks but also to Taclobanons or the people who are in the immediate area. The following are important issues/concerns in the airport noted and relayed by tourism administrator Bing Lumbre on behalf of the tourism regional director Karen Tiopes to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Eastern Visayas convenor and SLCI president Engr. Robert Castañares:
On the airport’s maintenance and cleanliness, area outside terminal building, near the arrival area entrance from tarmac is not well maintained. There are instances when the area is littered with trash. On some occasions, this area also has an obnoxious smell. Cleaning implements (brooms) are left in the places where in-coming passengers can see; lacking promotional collaterals / information materials at the visitor information counter, while its counter staff should be trained to respond to queries and concerns of passengers / visitors; and for porters and its porterage system, they need to improve appearance (comparable to porters at the NAIA and Mactan airports).
On the airport’s exit and arrival area: door of the arrival area is not as wide, thus passengers crowd by the door when luggage tags are inspected as they leave the arrival. Most of the time, Police assistance desk is unmanned.
For the transport service, there is a need to clarify status of airport land transports service providers, like are they franchise holders? are franchise issued by LTFRB and/or if accredited, by what agency, other than DOT? If yes, what are the guidelines for accreditation? Drivers and barkers of airport land transport service providers approach and tag along arriving passengers to offer their services. Demeanor/decorum of drivers and barkers (rowdy, noisy, loudly making comments about arriving passengers). This gives our airport a “market place” ambiance. Also there is no fixed rates.
At the Arrival Parking area, clarification is needed on who are authorized to park in the area near the arrival area (directly in front of airline cargo offices and VIP Lounge). Public Utility Jeeps? (in several instances these vehicles have parked in the area to load luggage of passengers)Airport land transport concessionaires? (some are parked in this area, others are parked along the access road) Privately owned vehicles? Government-owned vehicles?
On Security and safety, the DOT has noted the presence of children begging from arriving passengers. This may be the only airport in the country where beggars can freely roam around the airport, particularly the arrival area.
For the Security officers, there is a need for values reorientation for certain security officers for them to remember proper demeanor / decorum when manning the entrance gate as well as x-ray machine. (lacking common courtesy; one was even seen with his feet raised/resting on the x-ray machine acting as though he was lounging in their own leaving room).Personal items (comb, mirror, lunch boxes, cups) are openly placed on the desk at the entrance, and are seen by the passengers.
For the Check-in area and pre-departure area, there is a need to improve physical layout and cleanliness.
Along with these, rest rooms also lack of maintenance. Airconditioning facilities not enough. Ventilation is bad specially when there are many passengers. The canteen also needs to improve its look and cleanliness, along with its restrooms.
To top it all, VIP lounge should be ‘VIP lounge’, that is free from old furnishings (dusty, sagging upholstery), old curtains and anything which is a sore-sight to any excited, eager visiting dignitaries in the region. (Comments at email@example.com)
By: Ronald O. Reyes
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