THE long-planned roll on-roll off (RoRo) shipping route between Davao and Bitung, Indonesia will have its first test voyage on March 28, an official of the shipping company said.
Super Shuttle Roro Assistant Vice President for Corporate Planning Edrick de Guzman said that the company needed to complete a trial voyage before the formal start of the regular service on April 30.
That service will start with departure from Kudos Port in Sasa, Davao City, with a stop at General Santos International Port and then on to the port of Bitung, Manado, Indonesia, with a return by the same route. The round-trip will take three days.
De Guzman stressed that government support is vital to sustaining the new sea link.
“The only thing that will stop us from operating is when we no longer see the support of the government,” he said, adding that they were excited with the new route because it would open up to more international markets.
De Guzman did not elaborate on the nature of the government support his company and clients expect.
The route will be serviced by MV Super Shuttle RoRo 14, which is owned by Asian Marine Transport Corporation and has a capacity of 100 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary for Maritime Fernando Juan Perez said the preparations were going smoothly, including the inspection conducted in the ports of General Santos and Bitung. He said the improvements to better accommodate the ship and loading/unloading at Kudos Port in Davao City would be finished by March 20.
Perez is also the chairperson of the Philippine Interagency Task Force on Asean RoRo. He explained that it was the shipping line’s choice to use the private port in Davao, as the company already had an established business relationship with the port operator.
Perez highlighted the cost savings for customers using the route, and urged businesses who ship to Indonesia to try the service.
The rate for shipping on the new route is $700 (P34,713) per 20-foot dry container for the day-and-a-half one-way trip, compared to the more than two week travel time and $2,200 (P109,098) rate for the old Davao-General Santos-Manila-Jakarta-Manado route.
Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Art Boncato added, “This is a major milestone as we have completed the loop and the project was the outcome of the Asean Blueprint 2025, the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, and the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area) Vision 2025.”
Boncato is the Philippine government senior official representative to the BIMP-EAGA.
Boncato said the new route would serve as a link to the rest of the BIMP-EAGA region, and would especially benefit Filipino producers from Mindanao and Palawan.
“The connection is going to be historic in terms of transshipment because this will cut the time in terms of moving goods from certain parts of the Philippines to parts of Indonesia and outside,” he said.