April 15, 2014
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is boosting the safety and modernization of the Philippine domestic shipping industry through a P2.3B sub-loan support for the ten FastCat vessels of the Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corp. (APFC). APFC will soon launch the second of ten passenger Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) vessels which will serve the Batangas-Calapan Route deemed to be a vital link in the Philippine Western Nautical Highway.
APFC secured JICA's funding support from the Logistics Infrastructure Development Project of the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for the 10 passenger RORO vessels.
The 967-ton FastCat, designed by Sea Transport, Australia and built by Boni Fair Development Ltd., is the first locally-owned, brand-new and internationally classed Catamaran passenger-RORO vessel to operate in the Philippines. Said vessel is designed in line with climate conditions of the Philippine seas and is equipped with up-to-date safety features such as double hull with 10 watertight compartments, stable buoyancy with no ballast tanks to hold water inside. It is fitted with modern fire protection and fighting systems and installed with the state-of-the-art navigation and control systems. It has a top speed of 20 knots and could cover the Batangas-Calapan distance in 90 minutes.
"JICA vows to continue supporting efforts of the Philippine Government to assure safe sea travel and efficient sea based logistics that are vital for sustainable economic development in an archipelagic country like the Philippines," added JICA Philippines Senior Representative Eigo Azukizawa.
The vessel will have the capacity to carry 275 to 320 passengers including facilities to cater to the needs of senior citizens and people with disabilities. It can also accommodate 30-40 passenger cars and 6-7 trucks/buses.
The decision of APFC to introduce the FastCat in the Batangas-Calapan Route and the forthcoming delivery of additional brand new passenger-RORO vessels is expected to revolutionize the domestic shipping industry towards using brand new vessels replacing the practice of importing used vessels. Often, these used vehicles are not designed and are unfit to operate in the local conditions resulting in sub-optimal performance.
Following the enactment of Republic Act No. 9295 otherwise known as the Domestic Shipping Development Act, JICA has been supporting and conducting continuous dialogues with the Maritime Industry Authority in coming up with policies and programs to promote the modernization of domestic shipping and to develop and strengthen the local shipbuilding industry.