Saturday July 21, 2018

‘More ro-ro ports instead of island-bridges’

AN OFFICIAL of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is more viable to build more roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) ports than construct island-bridges.

Jonathan Cabaltera, assistant chief of the DTI’s Competitiveness Bureau-Supply Chain and Logistics Management Division, said they consider ro-ro vessels as bridges because these also connect islands aside from being transportation vehicles.

He said the construction of bridges is very expensive compared to building ro-ro ports, adding that it is also more time consuming which may result to bigger opportunity losses.

“Having ro-ro ports and vessels is much cheaper means of providing connectivity especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This will still allow exchange of goods and services," Cabaltera said, pointing out though that it is his personal stand and not of the agency.

Cabaltera spoke at the Logistics Efficiency Indicator Roadshow held at L’ Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City last week.

The DTI official, in an interview on the sidelines, said he is urging local business groups to submit a position paper on further developing connectivity in the region.

“Private sector’s position on various development and regulatory functions of the government, including those of the Philippine Ports Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, will be listened more," Cabaltera said, stressing that "better connectivity reduces logistical costs."

Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Frank Carbon, who was also present at the activity, said businesses should consider the logistical requirement, or moving their goods to the market plus transporting raw materials from the supplier to the factory.

Carbon pointed out that connectivity is one of the two components of logistical requirement. The other is capability of service providers.

He said that the government should provide connectivity which should start with road networks within the island.

“It does not start with the island-bridges or ro-ro ports and vessels,” Carbon said.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar had earlier said the construction of the $1-billion bridge connecting the four islands in Visayas is expected to start late next year.

Villar said he is optimistic to start the civil works of the Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros-Cebu Link Bridge in 2018.

For the local business sector, the government should prioritize the strengthening of road network in Negros over the proposed development of the bridge.

Carbon, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said sea transportation is still the most ideal way to ship bulk cargos from Negros to Panay and vice versa.

Since not everybody has vehicle thus, many would still opt to travel via ro-ro or fastcraft vessels, Carbon said.

“The proposed project may lessen the market of our local shipping industry, but the latter can still, for sure, survive,” he added.