Saturday, 26 April 2008

President Arroyo opens Central Nautical Highway as Ro-Ro caravan “sails on” Monday

The third component of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) -- the Central Nautical Highway, -- is about to “sail on” on Monday from Bulan, Sorsogon in Luzon all the way to Misamis Oriental in Mindanao.

The Central Nautical Highway Roll-on-Roll-off is the central trunk route connecting the province of Sorsogon to Balingoan in Misamis Oriental, passing through Central Visayas and connecting to the east-west trunk routes of Cawayan in Masbate, Bogo Port in central Cebu, Tubigon Port in Bohol, then to Jagna Port also in Bohol, and to the Mambajao Port in Camiguin.

The President will send off on Monday the RO-RO caravan that will test the viability of the nautical highway at the Bulan Port and Cawayan Port.

At some points of the voyage, she shall be joining the caravan.

The RO-RO caravan’s “sail on” from bustling Jagna Port in Bohol on the way to Mambajao Port in scenic Camiguin will have the President on board as she will be presiding over Tuesday’s National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Cabinet Group meeting as the caravan sails on to the Bohol Sea.

The caravan ends Wednesday (April 30) in Cagayan de Oro City with the holding of the Central Philippines SRNH Conference.

The SNRH -- an integrated set of highway segments and ferry routes, combined with road and ferry routes not formally part of SRNH -- is touted as one of the President’s legacy projects as it stands to spur economic development in the countryside. It links the island provinces through an efficient transport system that would enhance access to tourists areas throughout the country; and offers an alternate route for the flow of agricultural products at a lesser cost.

The President has said that” …the nautical highway brings development closer to the provinces… that will connect the market of Luzon to the production centers, the agricultural production centers of Mindanao.”

Travelling by Ro-Ro reduces the cost of travel by 37 to 43 percent for passengers, and 24 to 34 percent for cargo when compared to both sea and air travel.

It also reduces travel time by 10 to 12 hours when compared to ordinary sea travel.

Called the “highway of the sea,” the Ro-Ro system ferries trucks carrying goods and produce from Mindanao to Luzon and vice versa, directly to their destinations, without unloading in every port.

The SRNH -- a 919-kilometer (land) and 137 nautical mile (sea) transportation infrastructure -- includes the Western Nautical Highway or the western seaboard trunk route that links Manila and Dipolog City in Mindanao, and the Eastern Nautical Highway or the eastern sea link that connects Biliran in Leyte to Surigao City.

And, of the course, the Central Nautical Highway that would be opened Monday (April 28). Transportation Undersecretary Len Bautista stressed that the sea route, once it goes on its maiden sail Monday, must be operational from thereon.

The Montenegro Lines and Negros Navigation would be plying the central seaboard trunk.

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