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PPA, Marina adopt measures to modernize shipping industry

PPA, Marina adopt measures to modernize shipping industry

ALL ABOUT SHIPPING Fielding questions from The Manila Times Business editor Conrad Cariño (bottom row), TMT Maritime columnist Brenda Pimentel (middle row, rightmost) and TMT editor Dafort Villaseran (top row, middle) are Mark Parco (top row, left), Philippine Liner Shipping Association president; Asuncion de los Santos (top row, right), Philippine Ports Authority Port Operations and Services Department manager; Dan Fernan (middle row, left), 2Go Group Inc. vice president and head of Sea Solutions; and Robert Empedrad (center), Maritime Industry Authority administrator. SCREENSHOT BY THE MANILA TIMES

Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.

THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are keen to accelerate the implementation of the 10-year Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) that will turn the country into a competitive player in the global shipping industry.

“A vibrant maritime industry anchored on a highly competitive domestic shipping industry bodes well to the economic progress of our country,” Marina Administrator Robert Empedrad said in the The Manila Times forum titled “Sea Power: The game-changer.”

Empedrad said the Marina has successfully replaced 60 percent of wooden-hulled vessels for better and safer sea transport. It also managed to convince the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to loan money to shipowners wanting to modernize their fleet.

“We will enter a memorandum of agreement with the DBP to provide a long-term loan of up to 25 years and we will give incentives to shipowners who want to acquire ships to serve our routes,” he said.

Marina has opened 19 routes in the country since 2020, and PPA has completed 245 seaport improvement and development projects.

Hiyasmin de los Santos, PPA’s officer in charge and assistant general manager for operations, said the agency has spent P19.87 billion for projects using internally generated funds.

“The completed projects form part of the 585 port projects completed under the Build, Build, Build program of the current administration. Fourteen completed port projects will be inaugurated by June,” she said.

Among the completed port projects were the Port of Batangas Integrated Passenger Terminal Building, Port of Currimao port expansion project and construction of port operations building (Ilocos Norte), Port of Bulan expansion project (Sorsogon), Port of Legazpi rehabilitation and upgrading project (Albay), Port of Tabaco rehabilitation and upgrading Project (Albay), Ozamiz Port improvement project (Misamis Occidental), Sultan Naga Dimaporo port expansion project (Lanao Del Norte), Port of Mati improvement project (Davao Oriental), and Port of Dapitan reinforced concrete pier extension (Zamboanga del Norte).

The PPA has designated ports for crew change, noting the important role of seafarers in the global shipping industry and the world’s supply chain.

“PPA ports managed to continue cargo and passenger operations. Instilling the culture of readiness and flexibility in the ability of the management to change and modify corporate policies and maintain good relations to respond during the pandemic,” de los Santos said.

PPA projects include an electronic payment portal, electronic management system, container registry and monitoring system.

“PPA’s thrust is to go cashless and allow stakeholders to transact online,” she added.

2GO Group President and Head of Sea Solutions Dan Paolo Fernan said that his company provided crucial service and support to the agriculture sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“2GO Group supports the agricultural value chain. Our core services provide solutions for sourcing, production, inbound to distribution center and outbounds such as business to business and business to consumers,” Fernan said.

As the sole large RoPax operator in the Philippines, 2GO provides day-definite and lead-time specific connectivity from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Mark Matthew Francisco Parco, president of Philippine Liner Shipping Association, said that the domestic shipping industry moves over 95 percent of inter-island trade. It is an essential service that does not stop regardless of disasters, pandemic, or economic downturns.

“Shipping is a key part of the logistics chain in an archipelagic country and is an agile and strategic partner of trade,” he said.

Parco added that while the PPA has made several port developments, he wanted to see improvements that would translate to improved logistical cost.

Among the problems he cited were lack of equipment in some ports that resulted in lower productivity as well as poorly planned truck bans.

Parco belied allegations that domestic shipping is inefficient and is to be blamed for high cost of goods, citing shipping freight is only a fraction of the total cost of bringing goods to the market.

He urged the government to address the overlapping of agency functions of Marina, PPA and the Office for Transportation Security, as well as local class society, fuel tax and cargo handling issues.

“Economies of scale is the most important factor to achieve lower freight costs. Domestic ships are small because trade volumes are small. This condition would be faced by ships owned by Filipinos and foreigners alike,” Parco said.

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