A shorter sea route from the Philippines to Indonesia will open on April 28, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The new sea route will start from Davao City to General Santos then to Bitung, Indonesia, the DOTr said.
“Having a shipping route such as this is crucial for any maritime region. Sea linkage will strengthen our economies and our partnerships in other areas of development. And it will also improve the quality of life of our people because local businessmen and traders will directly benefit from this,” DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
The new sea route intends to make ferrying goods faster, compared to the current three to five weeks via the Manila-Bitung route.
The DOTr said that it will be cheaper, with savings estimated at about $1,500 or P75,000 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), which will create revenue for local businessmen and the government.
An initial weekly shipping schedule with a vessel capacity of 100 TEU will be provided by the Asian Marine Transport Corp., while other vessel operators are foreseen to show interest in plying the route, according to the department.
The Davao-General Santos Bitung route is one of the three Asean RORO priority routes, identified by the Japan International Cooperation Agency Feasibility Study on the Establishment of an Asean RORO Shipping Network, adopted by the 25th Asean Maritime Transport Working Group Meeting in 2013.
The other two routes are the Dumai-Malacca route and the Belawan-Penang- Phuket route.
The establishment of efficient and reliable shipping routes including the Asean RORO is one of the maritime initiatives in the roadmap toward an integrated and competitive maritime transport in Asean and maritime transport-related measures under the Asean Economic Community Blueprint, Master Plan on Asean Connectivity and Brunei Action Plan 2011-2015 and the Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan 2016-2025.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have been invited to the formal opening of the route.
REICELENE JOY IGNACIO