THE Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is calling on local and international vessel operators to address the shortage in local container vessels.
Marina said demand for boxships will continue to be strong in the near term with the expected boom in the local cargo industry in the next three to five years.
Large manufacturers such as Nestle and state-owned National Food Authority have complained to Marina about the need for more vessels to avert delays in shipment deliveries.
The situation has not been helped by the sale of four container vessels by the Aboitiz Transport group in the last two years, which has translated into a market deficiency of 20,000 twenty-footers a month.
“Everybody is welcome to introduce vessels into the local trade as long as they are willing to re-flag in the future just like… the (joint venture of) Aboitiz Group and AP Moeller Maersk MCC Transport Philippines,” Marina administrator Vicente Suazo, Jr said in a press briefing.
“A special permit has been issued to MCC Philippines for its vessel Med Bay to operate in the local trade to address the shortage despite (it) being foreign flagged. But they are now in the process of re-flagging,” he added.
“Lorenzo, Oceanic, NMC [National Marine Corp] and other local carriers are welcome to adopt such a process… they will not be violating laws as this is allowed at this time not just to strengthen the local ship registry but to address the shortage of cargo vessels,” Suazo said.
The local carriers, all members of the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA), are up in arms over the permit given to MCC Philippines to operate in the local trade, calling it detrimental and in violation of the country’s Cabotage Law.
They claimed the permit of MCC Philippines should have been revoked with the arrival of several new vessels owned by PLSA members.
Meanwhile, MCC Philippines may even introduce another vessel in the local trade while it is still completing re-flagging and re-crewing requirements in compliance with the country’s domestic shipping laws.
Based on PLSA figures, the freight business is expected to grow 10-15% this year then double by 2010, thanks to the robust mining and construction industries.