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Distributor: Gov't ill-maintained rubber boats

MANILA, Philippines – Some government agencies have ill-maintained the rubber boats they have procured for rescue operations during natural calamities such as massive flooding due to typhoons, a private distributor of the vessel said today (Sept. 30).

Senen Arabaca, president of Geneve SA Phils. Inc., one of the largest suppliers of rubber boats in the country, said government personnel should have properly stored these equipment to prevent them from being attacked by termites.

"They should know how to maintain them. These rubber boats should be placed on shelves whether inflated or not," Arabaca said.

He added that rubber boats must be stored in a cool place to prevent the material from getting brittle. When not in use, Arabaca said the vessels should be inflated at least once a month to check for holes that need plugging.

Geneve SA Phils. is the exclusive distributor of rubber boats made by Zodiac Enterprises, a manufacturing company based in France.

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Arabaca said the 500 rubber boats he sold to different government agencies, if maintained properly, would have a lifespan of 20 years. He, however, declined to name the agencies.

Araba said the the government's latest purchase from his firm was way back in 2000.

He cited that aside from narrow roads and several obstacles in areas hit by massive flooding brought by typhoon “Ondoy,” rescuers also lacked the number of rubber boats to reach people trapped in their homes.

At the height of the flooding last Saturday, Araba lent two of his rubber boats for use in rescue and relief operations.

A rubber boat with military specifications will cost P1.8 million each, while those for commercial use can go between P600,000 and P100,000.

At present, there are only three to four rubber boat suppliers in the country.

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