House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo heard concerns with stakeholders on the operations of roll on-roll off (ro-ro) vessels in Cebu recently. Arroyo attended the hearing of the House Committee on Transportation headed by Cong. Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes last Monday at the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) social hall. Albeit brief, the Cebu stakeholders were able to express their concerns to the committee, who according to Speaker Arroyo was the one who requested for the hearing to be held. The ro-ro operators, particularly, requested the hearing, the Speaker revealed. Ro-ro owner Paul Rodriguez of the Asian Maritime Transport Corp. (AMTC) interacted with the committee and suggested that in order to maximize the effectivity of ro-ro vessels, incentives shall be given to such vessels that are in missionary routes, those that are plying the route in the absence of existing shipping services.
Pressed further, Rodriguez suggested that newoperators or those imported vessels that are newly acquired should be assigned to new routes. The new routes could be later develop by attracting the market he said, adding, there are shipping routes in the country that are unserved by vessels. “What we are suggesting Mam just like what we did in the rolling of the nautical highway, the new operators or the new imported vessels were assigned to new routes and we develop the route thus from ground zero up to where it is now, it became successful,” Rodriguez told the committee. Sarmiento in turn told Rodriguez to submit a position paper to the committee and ask the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to take note of the points of Rodriguez. “We encourage the concern stakeholders that aside from laying out your concerns to submit your (position) papers so that we can be able to response” Cong. Sarmiento said in the hearing.
Jose Emery Roble of the Visayan Association of Ferryboat and Coastwise Service Operators (VAFSCO) expressed on the other hand their problems on the high cost of shipment of cargoes brought by the imposition of fee on the weighing of container vans once it is being loaded to their vessel.It is done by the private sector prompting Roble to suggest that the weighing be done by the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) instead to waive the cost of weighing. Roble whose family owns Roble Shipping Lines also revealed that there are ports in Leyte that have shallow sea waters thus creating a problem when their vessels would dock. It would create a safety problem on the vessel and its passengers as the vessel may ran aground, Roble pointed out, a matter which was supported by VAFSCO Pres. Alexander Cohon who was also present. The ro-ro system was the centerpiece of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) which was undertaken then during the presidency of the House Speaker. “The reason why we put up the ro-ro system is we wanted to bring down the cost of transporting services,” Arroyo who was the President from 2001-2010 told the Cebu press in an ambush interview after the hearing. Also present in the hearing were Cong. Peter Unabia (Misamis Oriental, 1st dist.) and Cebu City Congressmen Raul del Mar and Rodrigo Abellanosa. Mayor Tomas Osmena was also around but did not participate in the discussion.