POSTSCRIPT / April 29, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Low RoRo transpo cost: Boon to trade, tourism

BINAY DENIAL: Finally, weeks after text messages extolling Vice President Jojo Binay rained on media and other opinion sectors, the early presidential bird from Makati flew in to disown the info blitz that apparently had burned him.

In an email received Friday, Binay said the text blasts that began to hit media before Holy Week did not come “from me or my camp.” But he did not explain why he was disowning them only now.

He said: “By falsely claiming or implying that the messages came from (us), those behind this well-funded smear campaign had intended to antagonize people like you – since journalists were among the many recipients.”

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STILL BACKING NOY: Binay, the presumptive presidential nominee of the brand-new United Nationalist Alliance, took time to comment on related issues:

1. “I am in the best of health, thanks to the diet that I have been observing for decades, and to the walking exercises which I religiously follow.”

2. “I am in no rush to become, in your words, the Philippines’ first black President. Being a man of faith, I have always believed that things and events occur in their own time according to the Creator’s will.”

3. “I have won the vice presidency fair and square, and my confidence is boosted by the results of exit polls taken by reputable polling agencies and the quick counts conducted by watchdog groups.”

4. “On the matter of President Aquino not being able to finish his full term, I am confident that he will. I am part of the Cabinet helping the President fulfill his mandate. I fully support the President.”

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RORO PORTS: Domestic trade and tourism stand to benefit from the modular Roll on-Roll off (RoRo) ports project signed by the government with the French company Eiffel Matiere and backed by official development assistance.

The news was flashed when the supply contract of Eiffel Matiere was approved after processing by the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Justice in 2007.

The government has paid 15 percent of the total project cost to BNP-Paribas, the bank that backed Eiffel Matiere along with Calvon, both of which enjoyed guarantees extended by the Companie Francaise D’assurance Pour Le Commerce Exterieur, then headed by Christine Lagarde, the new chief of the International Monetary Fund.

The total project cost is 149,790,297 euros or P11.8 billion for 72 modular RoRo ports, with loan denominated in Japanese yen and exchange rate pegged at 185 yen to one euro.

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CHEAPER, FASTER: Eiffel Matiere designed the modular RoRo ports along the steel technology that, it said, is used by NATO forces for its steel trusses and weapons.

The firm boasts of being able to build a port in three to four months, compared to the one year needed for the old reinforced concrete ports.

The government said there is need for 234 ports nationwide, with 66 in the short term and 168 in the long haul, apart from the priority ports requested by local officials and more than 50 lawmakers.

Government studies have shown that French modular ports cost the least compared to RC on steel pipe piles and Spanish modular RoRo ports based on the Life Cycle method and Present Value Analysis, with and without financing.

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80-YEAR WARRANTY: RoRo ports can be built at a cost of P50 million-P60 million, but they have to be repaired and rehabilitated regularly. The port in Caticlan, which was built in 1999 at a cost of P45 million, had to be refurbished two years later.

Eiffel Matiere said its ports are guaranteed to last 80 years. The cost of locally financed ports built at P50 million using borrowed money at 7.82-8 percent would balloon to P154 million in 15 years, with a lifespan of only 40 years.

The cost of an Eiffel Matiere port would only be P143 million over 15 years from an initial expense of P46 million, with the lifespan of 80 years.

Since the grant element of the Eiffel Matiere loan is 38.6 percent, the government can avail of concessional funds for basic infrastructure projects needed.

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CARGO MOBILITY: An Asian Development Bank study has shown that Roll on-Roll off ports contribute significantly to passenger and cargo mobility.

In the Western Nautical Highway, from 1.86 million passengers in 2003, the number jumped to 3 million in 2008. Rolling cargo traffic was 254,029 in 2003, going up 65 percent to 419,740 in 2008. Ship calls went up from 11,126 in 2003 to 18,918 in 2008.

The Roxas-Caticlan route in 2003 had only one operator, with one vessel. Currently, three companies – Phil Harbor, Starlite, Montenegro — ply the route with five ships.

Ship calls on the route grew by 217 percent from 818 in 2003 to 2,595 in 2008. On the Dumangas-Iloilo-Bacolod route, there were only 37 ship calls in 2003. With RoRo, this went up to 4,913 in 2008.

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SHIPPING SAVINGS: Lower transportation costs translate to savings in operational expenses.

On the Batangas-Calapan route, San Miguel Corp. has reported a 57-percent savings. RoRo has cut the standard shipping cost of beer from P30,000 to P13,000.

San Miguel also saves 68 percent transporting liquid carbon dioxide on the Cagayan de Oro/Davao-Bacolod route, with RoRo lowering the standard P225,000 cost to only P72,000.

The Department of Health saves 60 percent on the cost of transporting medical kits on the Iloilo-Bacolod route from P10,000 to P4,000.

Transporting live cattle from Negros to Manila by RoRo has cut the shipping cost by 43 percent, from P90,000 to P72,000. Shipping dry goods from Manila to Cebu can be 20 percent cheaper by RoRo.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 29, 2012)

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