Roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) services for the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route have been put on hold due to low cargo volumes.
Asian Marine Transport Corp. (AMTC), which operates the service, last week said it was now considering a vessel with a capacity of only 100 containers to replace the Mv Super Shuttle RoRo 12, currently docked at the Davao-Sasa port.
The ship, which has a capacity of 500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), has been in use since the service was inaugurated last April 30 by President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo.
Indonesian Consul General Berlian Napitupulu said the potential was present, “but you have to have somebody to consolidate the cargo both sides, in Indonesia and Mindanao.”
“We really hope that both sides promote direct trade and I know there are connections and existing relationships between our business circles . . . many of our interests are compatible,” he added.
Napitupulu said the Indonesian government was doubling efforts to coordinate with the business sectors of both countries to expand links and boost trade.
The Indonesian Consulate in Davao City recently concluded a three-day expo featuring Indonesia products and networking events for Indonesian and Filipino businesses. The consulate is also planning to bring Filipino businessmen to Bitung this August to explore partnership opportunities.
The weekly service is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) RoRo Project and the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) initiative.
It was touted as a cheaper alternative to the Manila-Jakarta-Bitung route, which takes about three to five weeks of shipping time. Direct shipping through the new service takes only one day and a half of sailing (excluding port stay).
The new loop was also said to be cheaper, affording savings of up to $1,500 (P74,000) per TEU, given its rate of $700 (P34,713) per 20-foot dry container unit, compared with $2,200 (P209,098) per TEU on the Davao-General Santos-Manila-Manado via Jakarta route.
The maiden voyage commenced from Kudos Port in Sasa, Davao City, stopped at the General Santos International Port before heading to the final port of destination in Bitung, Manado, Indonesia.