Shippers back plans to revive river ferry

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THE Philippine Ship Agents Association (PSAA) on Monday said the planned revival of the Pasig City River Ferry system would not just help ease the expected traffic jams from the infrastructure projects but would also resolve the impasse between the city of Manila and the freight forwarders.

PSAA Virgilio Angeles told the Manila Times that the river ferry is a good project but should be patterned after that of the Pearl River of Hong Kong.

Angeles said that the shippers are open to the possibility of investing in the ferry system but the government should first clear out who will handle it, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) or the Maritime Industry Authority.

“We have to know who to approach if it will be the MMDA or Marina and it this could be part of the public private partnership (PPP) program of the government,” he said.


Earlier Marina Deputy Administrator Nicasio Conti appealed to the shipping industry to invest in the Pasig City River System not just to transport people but cargoes as well.

Angeles agreed that if the ferry system is up and running, several industry players may opt to deliver their exports and imports using it, to avoid traffic along Metro Manila streets and do away with the problems of the ordinance of the city government of Manila.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino earlier said, the agency will kick off the ferry service by April and will handle its operations until a private company can take over the project.

The 25-kilometer Pasig River connects Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay. It passes through the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong and Pasig.

The Pasig, despite snaking through the heart of the metropolis, is currently not commercially utilized for commuting. But for much of Manila’s history, the river was the main artery between coastal Manila and the city’s interior and beyond to Laguna province. Long before the Pasig became shallow from siltation, large ships used to ply this route, described in rich detail in Jose Rizal’s novels.

Tolentino hopes to make the ferry an alternative option for Metro Manila commuters as two major projects—Skyway 3 extension and Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Phase 2—have started. T
Angeles, however, noted that the MMDA should seriously consider using another type of fast craft, as most people complain of the long wait at each station.

He said that government should use hovercraft can load up to 40 people instead of the fast craft that needs 150 people. The hovercraft can remove clogging.

“We have to sit down with the government on who will directly be the department handling this. We need to carefully study it,” Angeles said.

“Container vans can also be loaded, if they identified the proper loading and unloading stations then it would be easier,” he said.

Angeles said that one of the main problems that the government also needs to address if the areas where the crafts dock.

“Government should beef up transportation at the dock points, I think transportation after coming off or going to the docking points are a problem,” he said.

Angeles also revealed that the Association of International Shipping Lines had already written to the Department of Transportation and Communications and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada of the industry’s position over the truck holiday.

He said that the AISL had warned that the current daytime truck ban could disrupt the current economic flow of the country, as the delivery of goods such as exports and imports will be greatly affected.

Estrada, shrugged off the threat of a truck strike by some 5,000 freight forwarders during the first day of a citywide daytime truck ban.

Under the new policy, which began on Monday, trucks are banned to ply the streets from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. However, they were given a window period to travel from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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