Ro-Ro ports, vessels ready to handle classic, vintage, sophisticated vehicles

MARCH 24, 2017, MANILA—The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced that Philippine Ro-Ro ports are now more than capable to handle the special requirements of transporting classic, vintage and sophisticated vehicle.

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. 

Porsche Club Philippines utilizes Nautical Highway

This after the members of the Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC) and the Porsche Club Philippines, onboard their classic Porsche Targa and Carerra machines, successfully traversed the Luzon, Panay and Visayas regions with ports and Ro-Ro vessels acting as conduits to connect the islands.

The trip, in coordination with the PPA, involves 7 cars from the MSCC and 10 cars from the Cebu group meeting halfway in the City of Iloilo covering close to 550 kilometers one way for the manila group and 300 km for the Cebu group. The travel also involved two Ro-Ro transfers for both legs with average sailing time of 3 hours each trip for the Manila group and 2 hours each for the Cebu group.

“There is no better way to market the readiness of our ports and encourage vehicle owners who are adamant to use the Ro-Ro highway than to have these classic, high-value vehicles have a firsthand experience of Ro-Ro travel,” PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago explained.

“We have been proofing our ports to handle these kinds of vehicles and the successful run of the two groups have affirmed that the Authority made the right investment,” Santiago stressed.

“Safety and security are also not an issue as the two groups made it safely back home despite encountering some mechanical problems during their long drives,” Santiago said.

In addition, the refleeting program currently being adopted by several Ro-Ro operators along the highway further improved the attractiveness of the Road Ro-Ro Terminal System to the public.

Similarly, the road modernization by the Department of Public Works and Highways along the Ro-Ro highway also guarantees a very smooth ride.

As of the moment, there are three main Ro-Ro arteries in the country, the Western Nautical Highway, which connects Luzon and Mindanao via Batangas, Mindoro, Aklan, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete and Dapitan; the Central Nautical Highway that links Luzon to Mindanao via Sorsogon, Masbate, Cebu, Bohol, Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro and the Eastern Nautical Highway, which runs through southern Luzon, the Bicol region, the provinces of Samar and Leyte and connects to eastern Mindanao in Surigao del Norte province. These routes are separated by some 50 nautical miles with average sailing time of 3 hours.

Backpackers can also enjoy the comforts of travelling through the Ro-Ro highway as several bus operators are maintaining predictable schedules along the three nodes like Philtranco, Jam Liner and Ceres, among others, while UV Express services are also available in almost every port.

“I am enjoining everyone to try and take advantage of our Ro-Ro highway because it is one of the best alternatives as it offers a wide array of opportunities to visit our islands compared to air travel,” Santiago said.

Congressional Ro-Ro Tour

Exactly a month after the PCP Expedition, the House of Representatives led by no less than Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Transportation Committee head Cesar Sarmiento along with some other 8 members of the Lower House, embarked on an 11-day Ro-Ro tour that ended only last Monday.

The purpose of the tour is to determine loopholes that is keeping the Ro-Ro industry in some areas of the country almost at berth and legislate, if needed, budgetary requirements to address the problem areas.

The Representatives started their journey in Batangas Port dawn of March 17 traversing Calapan and Bulalacao in Mindoro, Caticlan to Iloilo via Kalibo, Iloilo to Bacolod before having a 6-hour ride to Dumaguete and other 4-hour Ro-Ro ride to the Port of Dapitan in Zamboanga. They likewise had a 2-day road trip from Dapitan to Davao City passing through the provinces of Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. This route comprise the Western Nautical Highway, which is considered the tourism corridor of the Road Ro-Ro Terminal System of the Philippines.

For their return trip, the honorables took the Eastern Nautical Highway that is also known as the Pan Philippine Highway that was established during the time of the Marcos Regime.

From Davao, they travel to Lipata in Surigao via Butuan before taking a Ro-Ro ride to Liloan in Samar. Another road travel passing through Tacloban and Calbayog before taking a Ro-Ro to Matnog also gave the team to reflect on the state of the region some 4 years after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck the area.

Initial results of the Congressional tour show that one of the glaring problems that need to be addressed the soonest is the access road to and from the ports.

The House of Representatives, through the Transport Committee, is expected to come up with the full result of their tour when they resume their session on May 2.

The House of Representatives is also looking at traversing the Northern Nautical Highway connecting the provinces of Quezon, Isabela, Cagayan, Batanes, among others before the 2nd State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

This congressional initiative is part of the overall plan of the Duterte Administration to strengthen the Philippine maritime industry.