Home » Maritime » 500GRT RP-made ships by end-2006?

THE Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) predicts that new Philippine-made vessels will be afloat by end-2006.

"We are thinking of the 500-gross ton roll-on/roll-off types with a capacity of approximately 25-30 vehicles or 300 persons," said MARINA administrator Vicente T. Suazo, Jr.

The country's ability to manufacture vessels is being boosted by the priority being given to the development of the shipbuilding and ship repair (SBSR) sector by
MARINA and other sectoral associations.

Suazo said that under the Integrated Adjusted Philippine Maritime Industry Strategic Action Plan for 2005-2010,the first year will be allotted to the improvement of shipyard capability to make local building of vessels viable.

"The current situation is that shipping operators opt to buy second-hand vessels because of the much higher price of locally-made ships. So, that is the challenge; local shipbuilders need incentives to have more competitive rates," he pointed out.

Suazo said the improvement of shipyard capabilities involve the development of standard boat/ship design vis-à-vis Philippine ports/trade requirements and sea conditions; and the enhancement of tax incentive systems for SBSR.

He noted the Cebu group of shipyard operators has already committed to submitting a prototype and costing of an ideal Philippine ship by middle of next month. "We are going to sell this idea to prospective buyers and see if it is competitive enough," he said.

Suazo also noted MARINA is planning to separate ship repair activities from shipbuilding to prevent the continuous patronage of second-hand vessels. He is quick to add, however, that ship repairers will not be phased out as conversion of fleet to more modern vessels would still go on.

Bataan Association of Shipyards Engineers Company vice chairman Fil Salonga, in an interview, said that with initiatives, the SBSR is expected to be "twice better than before."

He said the private sector is very upbeat about the future plans for shipyard operators. "At present, there are so many barriers in the development of the
sector.

There are loose ends to be tied, particularly in terms of finance and education. Now we are starting to set them in motion," he noted. – Maritess R. Mesias

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