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Bacolod City shipping firm Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp pushes for maritime industry modernization

Shipping firm pushes for maritime industry modernization
Erwin P. Nicavera February 03, 2018

A SHIPPING firm with roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessel operating in Bacolod City is pushing for the modernization of maritime industry to provide superior transport services to Filipinos and tourists.

Christine Guevarra, vice president for marketing of Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. which operates FastCat vessel at Banago Port, said they are leading the way for other players to follow. Guevarra, at the sidelines of FastCat Bloggers and Media Tour in Iloilo City Thursday, said the average age of sea vessels in the country is 40 years old.

“Local players acquire second-hand vessels from other countries thus, there is no pressure to our maritime industry to modernize," she said, adding that “passengers do not complain and have been used to it because they are given that kind of service for long time.” In 2015, the firm started operating a 704-ton vessel plying Bacolod City to Iloilo City and vice versa.

The vessel with a capacity of seven trucks or buses, 34 cars and 275 passengers is one of the company’s current eight catamaran ferries. It is a type of multi-hulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls which can be sailed or engine-powered. Other routes include Batangas-Calapan (Mindoro), Bulalacao (Mindoro)- Caticlan (Aklan), Lilolan (Leyte)-Lipata (Surigao), Dumaguete (Negros Oriental)- Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte), San Carlos City (Negros Occidental)-Toledo (Cebu), and Cebu-Tubigon (Bohol).

Guevarra said two more vessels will operate during the second quarter which will connect Camiguin and Misamis Oriental via Hagna-Opol route, and Bulalacao in Mindoro and Palawan. Twenty other vessels will soon be added to the fleet to serve and connect the inner islands of the Philippines. In March, the firm will also try the Buliluyan (Palawan) to Malaysia route, Guevarra said.

“The new ferry initiative aims to raise the standards in maritime industry. As gamechanger, we hope to encourage competitors to also modernize by enhancing the comfort and convenience of passengers and ensuring their safety,” she added. In the bid to modernize the maritime industry, the shipping firm recognizes the vital role of the government.

Guevarra said the government can provide support by crafting policies that will further ensure convenience and safety of the passengers. She said that like the government's move to modernize jeepneys and buses by recalling those that are 15 years and above, sea vessels should also not be more than 20 years old.

“While adhering to international standards, we assure our clients that we will continue to improve our services,” Guevarra said, adding that as soon as all routes are saturated, they will eventually add another vessel in Bacolod to cater to more passengers and cargos.