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Government to spend P1-B to build nautical highway

The national government intends to spend P1 billion to further build up the country's nautical highway system this year, said Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas.

The amount would be used to complete the remaining links of the Western, Central and Eastern Nautical Highways and strengthen the viability of the entire system, he said.

"The funds will be spent mainly to improve the network of municipal ports and coastal roads that support the nautical highways," Gullas explained.

"The idea is to further ease transportation services and mobility in seaside towns leading to harbors that form part of the system," he added.

To date, the expanded nautical highway system, which includes the Cebu-Bohol-Camiguin roll-on, roll-off (RORO) complex, has reduced transport costs by 37 to 43 percent for passengers and by 24 to 34 percent for cargo.

Travel time has also been reduced by 10 to 12 hours.

As a result of the considerable reduction in transport cost and travel time, Gullas said the nautical highway system has also invigorated domestic merchandise trade and tourism in a big way.

The nautical highway system maximizes the use of RORO facilities to move passengers and cargo from Mindanao through the Visayas to Luzon.

The Western Nautical Highway is the western seaboard trunk route from Manila to Dipolog City or the Northwestern tip of Mindanao, which connects to the central trunk route at Cebu City in Central Visayas.

The Central Nautical Highway is the central trunk route connecting Pilar, Sorsogon to Balingoan, Misamis Oriental, passing through Central Visayas and connecting to the East-West trunk routes at Cataingan, Masbate and San Carlos City in Negros Occidental.

The Eastern Nautical Highway, on the other hand, is the eastern sea link that binds Biliran, Leyte to Surigao City or the Northwestern tip of Mindanao and connects to the Central trunk route at Cataingan, Masbate.

To spur countryside development, government sought the use of the RORO transportation system in 2003, through the issuance of two executive orders.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has also issued rules prescribing the procedures for the privatization of state-owned RORO terminals that form part of the nautical highway system.