PH to put 20-year cap on age of imported ships

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A Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) memorandum limiting the age of roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships and passenger vessels imported into the Philippines to 20 years will be out soon, part of the agency’s move to modernize the domestic fleet.

“We will be publishing our new circular to limit… the age of imported vessel to prevent old vessels from coming in, specifically for ro-ro and passenger,” Marina administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III told reporters on the sidelines of the June 1 launch of the agency’s maritime industry development roadmap.

The order has been approved by the Marina board, Amaro noted.

He said the “pro-active” measure does not cover vessels already in service.

Amaro explained that the initial plan was to put a 15-year cap on vessels’ age, but this was extended to 20 years following consultation with industry players.

He added that while they want to replace old ships, modernizing the country’s fleet does not mean the immediate retirement of old ships because doing so will affect the riding public.

Amaro said Marina has already identified old vessels facing retirement once replacement vessels become available. The agency has also received much interest from stakeholders who want to participate in importing new vessels or even having new ones built in the country, he added.

Banks have likewise agreed to the age limit, Amaro said, assuring Marina they “will not support any purchases that will be older than 20 years old.”

The Marina chief noted that part of its program is helping ship operators get bank loans to acquire vessels.

Amaro said other measures covering other types of vessels will be issued by the agency.

Marina, together with its mother agency Department of Transportation (DOTr), earlier announced plans to remove from service ro-ro vessels that are 35 years of age or older as well as wood-hulled ships, as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, who said that “not a single life” should perish at sea in his administration.

DOTr Undersecretary for Maritime Felipe Judan said more than half the country’s current fleet is at least 35 years old, and that old ships cannot just be removed from service as this will affect both ship owners and the stakeholders they serve. – Roumina Pablo

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net