THE Philippines’ roll-on, roll-off (Roro) system has allowed transportation costs to decline by as much as 10 percent to 60 percent since the system was put in place in 2003, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.  Through the Roro, the ADB said that the cost of transport logistics has been reduced. Through the Roro Ferry Terminal System, the cost of transporting tomatoes from Misamis Oriental to Manila posted net savings of 33 percent compared with the containerized mode of shipment.

In the publication titled “Bridges Across Oceans: Initial Impact Assessment of the Philippines’ Nautical Highway System and Lessons for Southeast Asia,” the ADB said that the country’s nautical-highway system can provide hope for “millions of poor in archipelagic Southeast Asia.”

The ADB said the report presented the findings of an initial impact study on the Roro system in the country and showed the simple policy reforms in the area of sea transport that can positively impact the lives of millions of poor who are still living in isolation in Southeast Asia.

“The Philippines’ model of ‘nautical highways,’ which has resulted in seamless connectivity from north to south across seas and islands, is seen as having great potential for (Southeast Asia). In theory, the region offers numerous possibilities for such nautical highways, but only detailed discussions with national and local governments and the private sector can result in meaningful highways that actually work,” the ADB report stated.

“The Roro system of sea travel has significantly reduced transport costs as well as travel times. Transport costs have been reduced by between 10 percent and 60 percent. Since the implementation of the Roro policy in 2003, cargo handling rates have only increased a few times [compared to the annual rate increases prior to the issuance of the policy],” the report added.

The development of the system started in 2003 with the issuance of a presidential order after lengthy discussions on the benefits and costs of the Roro system. However, once an order was signed, the ADB said the system developed rapidly, and now consists of three main north-south trunks and numerous lateral connections.

“The opening of the Strong Republic Nautical Highways has not only linked the country’s major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, but has also had positive network effects on the economies of the smaller islands along the major routes,” the report stated.

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