THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is urging the government to focus on Manila and Cebu and construct the needed port facilities as annual cargo traffic from the two cities are expected to surge 69% in the next nine years. JICA also proposed to ship owners to invest heavily on Ropax, widely known as combo vessels as it accommodates both cargo and passenger, to handle such increase in traffic. According to JICA, annual cargo traffic between the two cities will grow from 2.5 million metric tons in 2005 to 4.23 million metric tons by 2015. Ropax vessels will corner more than half of the market by 2015, followed by container vessels at 28%, and the rest shared by tankers, barges and other general cargo vessels. Passenger traffic on the said route is expected to decrease more than 50% from 415,000 annually in 2005 to only 240,000 annually in 2015. Based on future demand forecast, there should be two dedicated berths in Manila and three in Cebu, the gateway of the country to southern Philippines. JICA said existing port infrastructure of both cities should be utilized, though there would be minor improvements along the way, such as demolition of about 80% of the existing infrastructure in both cities to be replaced by new ones. It said the new facilities should have passenger terminal buildings, about 2,170 square meters big Manila and 4,600 square meters for Cebu; a boarding bridge for safe movement of people; a container yard; a parking area that will serve both for rolling vehicles that would board or alight the Ropax and as public transport terminal for passengers. It said such proposal is viable since the operator of the terminal will get its revenues from both the passengers-who will pay a terminal fee-and the cargo handling fee from the vessel operator. Other potential revenues include fees from parking, tenant rental fee, advertisements. At the moment, Sulpicio Lines and Gothong have dedicated piers in the Manila North Harbor which is used not only for their Ropax vessels but also for other cargo vessels. Aboitiz Transport Systems Corp, operator of the SuperFerry, uses the Asian Terminals Inc.-owned Eva Macapagal Super Terminal at the Manila South Harbor for its Ropax operation. In Cebu port, Sulpicio Lines, Gothong and Aboitiz Transport each uses a dedicated berth.