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Mactan Bridge ‘safe’ after ship collision

First Posted 14:28:00 03/25/2008

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - An oil tanker?s collision with the Marcelo Fernan Bridge last March 11 has not affected the bridge?s structural integrity, public works officials told the Mactan Cebu Bridge Management Board (MCBMB) on Monday.

Marlene Alviso, assistant regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Central Visayas (DPWH-7), presented to the board its final report on the accident.

Alviso said that according to experts from Katahira Consultancy, damage was minimal and there was no risk to the bridge?s soundness.

Alviso said Masami Kimishima, the Japanese designer of the bridge, was among those who inspected the structure last Wednesday, accompanied by divers from the coast guard and navy.

The impact of the oil tanker MTKR Damar of Sea-Tech Transport caused a portion of the column to chip off. Small cracks also developed in a portion of the column.

Repairs were estimated to cost P100,000.

Representatives of the Japanese company that constructed the bridge agreed to repair the structure within the week.

Rolly Militante, a member of Sea-Tech Transport?s board of directors, said the company was willing to pay for actual and incidental damage.

?We are willing to shoulder the amount for the repair,? Militante said.

The MCBMB said it would also ask Sea-Tech to pay for exemplary damages. The board will determine the amount at a later date.

Militante said he would consult the Sea-Tech board regarding the exemplary damages.

Augustinito Hermoso, legal counsel of DPWH-7, said that if Sea-Tech agrees to MCBMB?s demands, court intervention would not be necessary.

Militante asked the board to allow the MTKR Damar to sail again.

He said the company was willing to put up a bond of P500,000 in favor of MCBMB for the vessel?s temporary release while investigation into the bridge collision was still ongoing.

Members of the MCBMB did not object to Sea-Tech?s offer.

MTKR Damar was grounded on March 12 when it reached the port of Cagayan de Oro, where it docked after hitting the bridge. The Maritime Industry Authority suspended the vessel's Cargo Ship Construction Certificate and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate.

Militante told Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, a member of the MCBMB, that the captain of the MTKR Damar did not intend to avoid responsibility for hitting the bridge.

He said the captain proceeded on his way to Cagayan de Oro because he thought there was no damage to the bridge during the impact.

A member of the MTKR Damar?s crew who was present at Monday?s briefing said the vessel was carried by strong currents while it was passing under the bridge, resulting in the impact.

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