By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) announced on Friday, August 30, its plans to start construction of the Duterte administration’s first shipbuilding facility next year to bolster the country’s shipping industry.
In a press conference following the conclusion of the Maritime Safety Summit for Domestic Shipping here, PPA general manager Jay Daniel Santiago said they have already completed the feasibility study for the 10-hectare facility project.
“We have already identified the location. But we apologize that we cannot disclose the actual location because we don’t want to encourage speculations dun sa (in the) landholdings,” Santiago said.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said the plan has been eight months in the making, and the facility would not only build passenger ships but leisure vessels as well.
Initially, the PPA chief said the facility aims to build only one design or one type of passenger vessel, a roll-on/roll-off vessel or a fast craft, and produce these as much as possible to replace old and unsafe vessels such as wooden-hull bancas which the DOTr hopes to fully retire as soon as possible.
“We want to be able to deploy as many passenger vessels as possible during the time we are retiring or decommissioning vessels that are unacceptable for the safety of our passengers,” Santiago said.
Following the conclusion of the feasibility study, the PPA said it is now deliberating how the project would commence – either it would be government-initiated through public-private partnerships, or through solicited proposals.
“We will also look at the appropriate vehicle, either an (operate and maintain contract) or some other arrangement with experts. Initially, we are looking at inviting manufacturers involved in shipbuilding either in Navotas or in Cebu,” Santiago said.
He said they aim for the facility to house multiple manufacturers with expertise in building different parts of a ship –an assembly line which consists of multiple manufacturers that are not competing against one another.
“We have specific manufacturers that have expertise either in hull-making, engine, coachworks, electrical –we want all of them to come together to come up with one product for that facility so that may efficiency tayo (we have efficiency),” Santiago added.
Through a budget of PHP300 million, which does not include a budget for equipment and manpower, he said they are hoping for the ground-breaking of the project to happen next year.
“Those who will be coming in, we expect them to bring their equipment, their expertise — because they are the ones who really know how to jumpstart the manufacturing process,” Santiago further said.
The planned facility would also be covered either by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments (BOI) to encourage investments from the private sector.
“We’re thinking kung ipe-PEZA natin or ibi-BOI natin (whether it will be covered by PEZA or BOI). But the intention is, when we start deploying the vessels, kumpleto na yan (it’s already complete),” he said.
During the summit, Tugade also ordered strict enforcement of a DOTr department order in 2016 which calls for the phaseout of wooden-hull boats as passenger vessels.
Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) officer-in-charge VADM Narciso Vingson, Jr., in an ambush interview following the event, said they have stopped the registration of wooden-hull passenger bancas two weeks ago to push the DOTr’s modernization plans and ensure the safety of maritime passengers. (First published by PNA, Aug. 30, 2019)