PGMA opens new Ro-Ro route from Aklan to Batangas

December 8, 2009 12:22 am 

DUMAGUIT, New Washington, Aklan, Dec. 7 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched on Monday afternoon a new route of the roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) nautical highway from Dumaguit Port in Aklan to Batangas in southern Luzon via Odiongan, Romblon.

This new route will ferry people, goods, services and even useful recyclable materials back and forth at a lower cost and without much hassle of loading and unloading too often using the regular shipping routes. The Super Ro-Ro II will leave Dumaguit port every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at noon bound for Batangas and vice versa.

The new Ro-Ro route will be serviced by the Super Ro-Ro II, a 1,769-gross registered ton vessel which the Asian Marine Shipping Lines, a company owned by the family of Paul Rodriguez, who is also chairman of the Asea One Power Corp., which broke ground the country’s first 12-MW (megawatt) power plant that will connect directly to the Panay Island grid in Banga, Aklan.

The Rodriguez family had been operating for decades now Ro-Ro vessels that link Luzon to Mindanao via the nautical highway, but it is only under the Arroyo administration that investments in such business had become viable, according to Rodriguez, who also chairs the shipping company.

Rodriguez said his company had been buying secondhand boats from Japan — not less than 20 years old — at US$ 3.5 million per vessel in order to serve an “unfilled need of the people to get their cargoes, vehicles and passengers to and from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao at a cheaper price.”

The President conversed with Roger Sabino, a junk shop operator in Aklan, who has been ferrying his cargo to Batangas in exchange for other recyclable materials needed in Aklan, which “used to be cumbersome as I needed a lot of kargadors to load and unload the contents in every port. This used to also be very costly as I pay all the porters, truckers and other services along the way. But now with the Ro-Ro, I don’t need to load and unload my cargo anymore. I just need to unload and load the trucks and they ply the roads to their final destination.”

Another conversation was with a newly-hired official of the vessel, who just graduated from a maritime school, took his licensure board and passed and underwent a lot more training before finally being hired by the company. He thanked the President for having made possible the Ro-Ro nautical highway, which allowed newly-trained people like him an opportunity to be employed locally before getting employment in foreign vessels.

The President thanked the Rodriguez family for responding to her call for investors in the nautical highway and in other new fields like the renewable energy.

Before the President spoke, New Washington Mayor Edgar Peralta thanked her for all the projects that she had given the province and vowed to match her expectations of economic growth from these projects. He also thanked the President for releasing P45 million for the rehabilitation of the long seawall that was damaged by typhoon Frank in 2008. (PNA) scs/OPS/ssc

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