Domestic ferry operators form an industry group
MANILA, Philippines – Local ferry operators have come together as an industry group to better support the sector’s critical role in the future development of shipping in the Philippine archipelago.
The Philippine Association of Coastal and River Ferries Inc. (PACIWFI) is a non-stock trade organization to promote the interests of the coastal and river transport industry and to direct the government to establish a national standard for coastal and river ferries. based on international standards but adaptable to local conditions.
Leading the new group are Captain Gaudencio “Jess” Morales, owner of Metro Ferry Inc.; Godofredo Sadiasa, President of Caticlan Boracay Transport Multipurpose Cooperative (CBTMPC); Captain Joel Legita of Guimaras Province; Abelardo Salgo of Salgo Boatbuilding and Shipping Services; and performance excellence advocate Juan Miguel Gonzales.
Coastal and river ferries have the highest passenger throughput among passenger-carrying vessels in the Philippines. Metro Ferry alone carries about 10,000 to 12,000 passengers between Cebu City and Lapu Lapu City in Mactan.
Morales said the formation of PACIWFI was necessary because coastal and inland transportation plays a crucial role in inter-island connectivity, especially for the country’s remote coastal communities.
These particular transport sectors bring and sell agricultural products to municipal markets and transport children to schools, the sick to municipal health centers and family members to their work on neighboring islands.
He said that in some coastal communities, these coastal and river ferries provide sea transport from farm to market and are sometimes used as a measure for people to get emergency, rescue and/or rehabilitation assistance from the from their local government units (LGUs) in municipal centers during times of severe flooding and typhoons when existing roads become inaccessible.
Since a high percentage of domestic trade, travel and tourism is carried out by sea, the efficiency of maritime transport has become increasingly essential to the growth and competitiveness of domestic maritime transport, and among them are the coastal and river ferries. It is therefore essential that a standard be established for the design and construction of this type of water transport.
For his part, Gonzales said that an independent international classification society, IntlReg Class, has already pledged to support this PACIWFI initiative.
“The Philippines relies on the maritime industry as an essential element in achieving inclusive growth and socio-economic progress. Maritime transport remains the main infrastructure through which the islands are connected and connects the country to international trade and commerce,” the PACIWFI official said.