THE Davao and General Santos to Bitung, Indonesia sea connectivity route is targeted to start before the launching of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit 2017 to be hosted by the Philippines next year.
Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) deputy executive director, assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said the final identified roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) shipping service which will serve the route is the Asian Marine Transport, a Philippine registered shipping firm and operator of the Super Shuttle Ferry, Super Shuttle Roro, and Shuttle Fast Ferry vessels.
“What is being prepared for now is the shipping firm is reviewing the load to determine the cargo volume (of both Mindanao and Indonesia) to make the shipping service viable,” Montenegro said.
The shipping service is among the priorities of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) which will further facilitate sub-regional trade, enhance people-to-people contacts as well as give the greater impetus to the multimodal transport connectivity of the sub-region.
Minda Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto said earlier in a statement that the route is seen as one of the mechanisms that will strengthen sea trading within Eaga, which is part of their strategy to develop a virtual economic bridge for the sub-region’s traders.
In the recently concluded 20th Ministerial Meeting in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the sub-region’s ministers said they are pleased with the steady progress for the establishment of “safe, efficient and reliable shipping routes in Davao-Gensan-Bitung.”
Once realized, the route will enable traders from Mindanao to easily export goods and commodities like food and beverage, electronics and garments, beauty products, fertilizer, construction materials, agricultural inputs, tin cans and packaging materials up to North Sulawesi in Indonesia.
Last year, MV Beverly of PT Kanaka from Bitung and Platinum Shipping Lines of Cagayan de Oro were reported to serve the route but some challenges in securing permits were faced causing the project’s delay.
“They faced challenges like getting permits, they need first to upgrade its permit to the international standards to serve the route,” Montenegro said.