“Border security concerns” are delaying the awaited operation of the roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ferry service that will link the newly-constructed Buliluyan Port in Bataraza to Kudat in the northern part of the state of Sabah, Malaysia.
Governor Jose Alvarez said Saturday in a gathering with the local press that the brand new Fastcat ferry vessel that will service the RORO route is ready, but some concerns in security will have to be worked out first before its operation begins.
“May konting hadlang lang doon sa security. Ayusin lang natin saglit ang security,” he said.
Alvarez did not elaborate on what these security concerns are, but customs immigration and quarantine posts will have to be set up, including security and surveillance systems for the safety of the ferry vessel personnel, passengers, and goods that will travel the route.
He said while border safety concerns are being fixed, the province will work on the passing of a law in Congress that will allow right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles in the country since Malaysia is right-handed driving.
Currently, under Republic Act No. 8506, vehicles with right-hand drive are banned for registration and operation in the Philippines.
Alvarez said he is also inclined to smoothen the RORO operation from Mindoro provinces to Palawan first before the Palawan-Kudat ferry link.
“Unahin muna natin ‘yan. Kapag meron na ‘yon, habang pina-file ni Rep. (Gil) Acosta Jr. ang batas to allow the Malaysian right-hand drive vehicles to come into Palawan and drive to El Nido — hanggang El Nido muna — I can do that by executive order. Going to Manila, we need a new law saying that the right-hand drive vehicles can drive there. Wala pa tayo noon,” he said.
He said this is another reason why he is not pushing for the operation of the ferry link.
The Palawan-Kudat sea link test run was supposed to happen in February 2018. However, it was canceled due to unfavorable sea conditions.