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Industry stakeholders pursue capital intensive projects for shipping

Industry stakeholders pursue capital intensive projects for shipping
December 16, 2020

The Integrated Seafarers of the Philippine (ISP) has started funneling significant investments that could reach P1 billion in several projects that include a shipyard in a bid to build five vessels that will include a training ship with 3,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) and seven more small vessels for domestic shipping in the next five years.

Not only that, ISP President Capt. Gaudencio Morales disclosed that the shipbuilding and ship repair venture is just one of the components of ISP’s “6 in 1” Vision as its contribution to the development of the maritime industry and the seafaring sector.

Morales was given the chance to present the ISP Vision during the updating workshop for the 10-year Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

“We will design and build steel-hulled vessels below 3,000 DWT including special purpose vessels (a training and cargo ship), boats and tourism fast craft,” Morales told the first day of the Marina-organized virtual workshop last December 3.

Site development for the shipyard has started despite the pandemic. Located in the coastal town of Albuera in Leyte, the shipyard would be operated by IMP Shipyard and Port Services.

The shipbuilding and ship repair business, which can be considered the flagship among the six projects of ISP, would require an estimated P200 million in initial investment.
He admitted that this project is capital intensive but considering the volume of ships that needs regular drydocking and repair, and the volume of the cargo movement in the localities that require port facilities, the project is sustainable.

Aside from the shipyard, ISP saw the need to intervene and help address the shortage of cadetship berths.

With an initial P100 million investment, it will establish a new shipping company that will manage and operate newly built cargo-training ships that can accommodate at least 50 cadets (25 cadets each for deck and engine).

It plans to build eight cargo-training ships or special purpose vessels to provide berths for 200 to 1,600 cadets a year.

ISP also plans to develop the area adjacent to the shipyard on the south side. It will construct a pier facility that can accommodate two or three LCT for loading aggregate cargo as well as loading and unloading of rolling cargo like container trucks and heavy equipment.

Apart from generating jobs, ISP plans to provide a livelihood to residents of local communities near the shipyard. ISP is setting up a fish port in the area on the north side of the shipyard.

“It will serve as a small fish port and community-based coastal enterprises for the residents of the community and berthing area of fishing boats. A commercial fish vending activity will be created there and a refrigerated container van will be provided to store their catch.”

The shipyard will also design and build small and economical steeled-hulled fishing boats so that local fishermen may have the option to replace their old wooden boats.

The fifth component of ISP’s Vision is the Cadetship Training Program that may start in 2023. Capt. Morales said onboard training facilities and programs would be compliant with government and STCW standards.

“The duration of training is more or less three months either before or after boarding an overseas vessel to fill up the number of months required before cadets can take the examination for OIC (Officer-in-Charge) because most overseas employment contracts are only nine months or less,” he pointed out.

“The training cost can be subsidized by principals, licensed manning agencies (LMAs), or cadets themselves. It can also be subsidized through a “Training Now Pay Later” scheme in cooperation with LMAs,” he said.

Last but, of course, not least is the Seafarers’ Reintegration Program. Since 2014, the NGO has been conducting a monthly Financial Literacy Seminar for returning seafarers and their families for free, but the program was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19).

Since 2015, it has partnered with the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) and sponsored the yearly NRCO-ISP Business Plan Competition for Filipino seafarers and their families. Unfortunately, the program was also suspended this year due to the pandemic.

During the workshop, Capt. Morales admitted that the project is capital intensive, however, expressed confidence that the “6 in 1 Vision of ISP is ideally doable and achievable” especially if the NGO would get the support it needs to turn its vision to reality from government agencies, in terms of favorable policies, financing, and incentives, as well as cooperation with industry stakeholders.

In response, Marina thanked Morales and welcomed ISP’s initiatives as part of private sector participation in the updating of the MIDP.

Morales said the whole project cannot be achieved without the approval and support of Marina.