The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will conduct an assessment of its roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) port system in order to maintain its viability for trade and tourism, the agency announced on Thursday.
The agency said it was responding to a call from shipping operators to improve facilities in line with the industry’s initiatives to modernize the country’s fleet.
PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago explained that initially, his agency is collaborating with the Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC) to traverse the western node of the Ro-Ro highway.
The western node is routed through the ports of Batangas, Mindoro, Caticlan, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete and Dapitan in Zamboanga.
“The Ro-Ro system is the most efficient means to connect the country’s islands, which is why it is important to guarantee its continued viability for trade and tourism,” Santiago stressed.
“With the influx of bigger, high-capacity and sophisticated Ro-Ro vessels, we need a responsive port system to cater to these demands,” Santiago said.
“The MSCC, whose members own vintage and classic vehicles, will experience the ports capability to handle ordinary commuter vehicles. If the ports can handle the special requirements of these unique vehicles then surely, our ports can definitely handle the requirements of everyday vehicles,” Santiago added.
The expedition will provide data and feedback from port users on how to improve port operations and facilities.
After the Western Nautical Highway, PPA plans to repeat the survey along the Central Nautical Highway, which links Pilar, Sorsogon, and Balingoan in Cagayan de Oro; and the Eastern Nautical Highway, which is a link between the province of Biliran, Western Leyte and Surigao City.
The modernization and expansion of the operations of the Ro-Ro system was one of the key infrastructure priorities identified by the current administration to maintain inter-island connectivity, Santiago added.
The PPA said the government is continuing to encourage additional private sector investments in Ro-Ro operations, particularly in areas where there is high traffic volume.
In 2003, the government issued a policy to promote Ro-Ro, a system designed to carry rolling stock cargo that does not require cranes for loading or unloading.
The Strong Republic Nautical Highway is one of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s priority programs to ensure fast and economical movement of goods and people, and to boost domestic tourism and trade.
The Asian Development Bank earlier said the Ro-Ro system had cut the cost of the transport system as well as the travel time in the Philippines.