THE Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) noted that the revived shipping connectivity between Mindanao to other regions of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga) was used for import of goods.
Minda deputy executive director Romeo Montenegro said the shipping connectivity, which is currently serviced by the Reefer Express Lines, is bringing in goods from countries like Vietnam.
"Mudirecho pa man gyud na siya og Vietnam kay naa pa man na siyay ginasource out didto nga mga commodities (The vessel goes to Vietnam because it will pick up commodities there). Right now, it is more of us buying commodities like we are buying cement from Viet Nam ," he said.
In a briefer provided to SunStar Davao, the Philippines also imports rice and sugar from Vietnam.
"Ilang route man gud is all the way to Vietnam and nagahapit-hapit lang sila into specific points of the Bimp-Eaga kung naa silay dalang load (Its route is all the way to Vietnam and it stops over to other countries in the Bimp-Eaga if it carries loads for these areas)," he said.
The operation of the initially launched Davao/Gensan to Bitung Roll-on, Roll Off (Roro) vessel was opened to other countries last year after Minda turned over the service to Manila-based shipping company Reefer Express Lines.
Reefer Express Lines is deploying M/V Baltic Summer, a specialized/conventional type vessel with a capacity of 290 TEUs.
It can accommodate both dry and frozen cargoes, with an available 78 reefer plug points. It can also accommodate 10,000 tons of loose cargoes.
The briefer also revealed that the vessel had a trial run from Ho Chi Minh on June 16, 2019, arrived in Davao via Labuan, Malaysia and Bitung, Indonesia on July 12, 2019. It sailed back to Bitung on July 22, 2019.
Montenegro said the revamped operation makes the shipping connectivity viable than its original plan.
In June 2019, Minda public relations Adrian Tamayo said the size of the original vessel is too big for the volume of load it carries to Indonesia.
The traders are said to have struggled to fulfill the cargo load requirement of the original 500 20-foot equivalent (TEU) Super Shuttle Roro 12 of Asia Marine. It was later changed to Gloria 28 vessel with a carrying capacity of only 256 tons but was not sustained.
"If you are connected to several other destinations, then mas mag increases ang imong viability because daghan ka og load nga makarga (If you are connected to other destinations, it will increase your viability because you will be able to carry more cargo loads)," he said.
"Kung purely Indonesia [to] Mindanao lang gyud ang load, then kana ang magbalik-balik lang between Davao ug Bitung nga exchange of goods (The exchange of goods will only be confined to Davao and Bitung if the connectivity is just between Indonesia and Mindanao)," he added.
Montegro said the shipping vessel plies twice weekly or depending on the loads every month.
The supposed Davao-General Santos-Bitung RoRo sea connectivity was first launched in April 2017 but was on hiatus for a year until Reefer Express Lines offered to operate the route. It was finally revived in 2019.