Interferry team to prepare best practice guide for ferry safety

Interferry team to prepare best practice guide for ferry safety
Interferry's Johan Roos is hopeful for the future development of safety standards in the Philippines and other developing nations

Interferry’s FerrySafe project team has found that the development of “reasonably stringent” regulations, weather-dependent no-sail policies, and government willingness to facilitate change are some of the factors that have led to a significant decrease in the number of ferry accidents in the Philippines.

The FerrySafe team was established to study how the Philippines has gone from having the highest number of ferry incidents and fatalities in the world to almost zero, so Interferry can offer best practice guidance and help other developing nations improve ferry safety. To do this, the team has carried out two week-long visits to the Philippines – the first to political capital Manila in March 2019 and the second to ‘ferry capital’ Cebu in late May.

During the visit to Manila, the FerrySafe team conducted 44 informal interviews with shipowners, operators, regulators, naval architects, shipyards, classification societies, surveyors, insurers, the coastguard authority, tourism agencies, customers and media commentators.

When it visited Cebu in May, the team carried out 22 interviews and met with top national and regional officials from the maritime authority MARINA and the Cebu Port Authority. In addition, the team held a three-hour session with members of the regional Passenger Ship Spotting Society, visited shipyards, observed several Philippines Coast Guard pre-departure inspections and undertook seven ferry crossings on vessels of different type, age and size.

Although the FerrySafe team found that there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to explain the reduction in incidents, industry-wide discussions consistently identified the positive impact of governmental influence, stricter regulations and the wather-dependent prohibition of sailing permits. A stronger presence from local enforcement personnel has also helped.

“By and large, our initial findings from Manila were reinforced by this second visit,” said Johan Roos, director of Regulatory Affairs at Inteferry and one of the four FerrySafe team members. “We were able to dig deeper into a number of government and agency interventions that have made a real difference towards the positive developments we have seen in the Philippines over the past decade.”

While the team did not find the ‘silver bullet’ answer to improving ferry safety in developing nations, it did get an insight into the impact of insurance and insurance surveys.

“Previously, we did not have a good grip on how the national hull and the protection and indemnity insurance markets worked – we were told by insurance experts back in Europe that the Philippines ferry market was ‘not insurable,’ said Roos. “We have learned, however, that requirements from national insurance companies have actually been a strong driver. Our further deliberations will keep pulling on that thread.”

Preliminary findings will be presented at Interferry’s 44th annual conference and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation event, both of which will take place in London this October. The final report will be available in 2020. Following this, the report will be disseminated to other developing nations – particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa.

“We have good reason to remain hopeful for the future development of safety standards in the Philippines and for our ability to condense their success into something exportable to other countries,” said Roos.


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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
10 June 2019

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