Cebu still reeling from poor telecommunications services five days after “Odette”

Telecommunications services in Cebu province remain very irregular five days after Typhoon “Odette” (international code name Rai), leaving poor connectivity from existing cell sites.

Kenneth Cobonpue, President of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 (Central Visayas), said that a “major factor hampering the full reactivation of telecommunications services remains the lack of adequate power supply and fallen debris preventing staff from telecommunications to access certain cell sites. “

“It is hoped that as the power supply resumes and more roads are cleared, this will allow telecommunications companies to accelerate the full resumption of mobile services in all areas of Cebu in the days or weeks to come.” Cobonpue told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a Viber message.

He said PLDT and Smart reported that as of 2 p.m. on December 21, only 49% of 4G wireless subscribers had been activated, while 69% of PLDT DSL connections were still down so far.

However, he said, progress has been made in smart wireless 3G connections, with 63% now reactivated, while 77% of PLDT Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) connections are already available.

To help speed up the reactivation of their mobile services, Cobonpue said the PLDT had sent additional reinforcement teams and satellite equipment from Manila to provide additional support to some areas of Cebu with severely damaged equipment.

The RDC-7 chairman said Globe Telecom also provides free Wi-Fi in some shopping malls and government offices.

Power update

Cobonpue said several areas in Cebu are slowly being revitalized with alternative energy sources and powered by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

In North Cebu, 10 areas were energized by Cebu Electric Cooperative II, while Visayan Electric Company (VECO) re-energized 64 of 544 power line segments, supplying 2,484 units in Cebu, including 2 190 residences and the rest are establishments.

The Balik Buhay Project, a private sector initiative organized in 2020 at the start of the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19), congratulated Aboitiz Power for sending additional back-up teams from the Cotabato Light and Power Company in addition back-up teams from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco).

Reinforcement teams have been deployed to help augment the already exhausted VECO teams who have been working non-stop since Friday to speed up the repair and reconnection of damaged utility poles.

Return airport service

The Mactan Electric Company has repaired several damaged substations and powered up some substations on Mactan Island, including the airport substation, Terminal 1 at Mactan Cebu International Airport now starting at be supplied with electricity.

Although power is restored to supply Terminal 1, Cobonpue said not all equipment was fully functioning yet, including the air conditioning units.

“Likewise, as the Internet connection resumes, the PAL (Philippine Airlines), Cebu Pacific and Air Asia check-in systems have been reactivated. Unfortunately, while some Wi-Fi connections in the airport have slowly recovered, speed is sometimes affected by the deluge of use by many waiting passengers, ”he added.

He said international arrivals are expected to partially resume by Thursday, but with some restrictions as passenger volume would have to be managed to avoid overcrowding at the airport.

The availability of hotel rooms is also taken into consideration when resuming flights to Cebu.

However, international departures have already started on Tuesday, Cobonpue said.

In its notice published Wednesday at noon, VECO said it had energized 4,175 of the 474,182 customers concerned and restored 93 or 17.1% of the 544 segments of power lines, in its franchise area.

“Restoration takes longer in areas where Visayan Electric’s distribution facilities have suffered heavy damage, such as overturned poles, fallen cables and damaged transformers. Our Visayan Electric linemen, along with engineers and crews from various distribution utilities across the country, worked around the clock to clear the lines and restore power as quickly and safely as possible, ” indicates the notice.

The electricity distribution company covering Metro Cebu asked consumers for “continued patience in these trying times.”

Fuel issues resolved

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has ordered fuel to be loaded directly into vehicle tanks starting Wednesday to prevent people here from hoarding as many scramble to stock up on produce.

Establishments and residential houses that have generators will be exempt.

This measure intends to stop hoarding, resale or the black market of fuel here, after the assault of “Odette”.

Garcia met on Tuesday with Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, representatives from major oil companies such as Shell and Petron, Topline, independent tankers and the Cebu Contractors Association on Capitol Hill to resolve fuel issues following the typhoon. .

Long queues at gas stations were observed in the province and at the Cebu metro, resulting in heavy traffic.

Garcia has issued an executive order on the matter while Rama is also expected to issue a directive to gas stations in Cebu City.

They agreed that hotels and large establishments could buy up to 200 liters of fuel for their generators but they had to present their operating permits. For residential homes with generator sets, homeowners can load up to 10 gallons of fuel into containers, as long as they show pictures of their units as proof.

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