ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two ferry services are expected to add to the growing number of passenger ships plying Zamboanga City to Sulu province and vice versa as Gov. Totoh Tan said that a shipping company will start operation this year as part of an expansion program in the region.
He said the roll-on/roll-off ships of Negros Navigation Shipping Company will each have a capacity of 650 passengers and can reach the capital town of Jolo from Zamboanga in seven hours.
“This is a good development and (it) just shows that our economy is really improving – thanks to the peace and development efforts of the government and to the resilience of our people. We are slowly, but surely putting Sulu in the right place as far as trade and commerce is concerned,” Tan said.
Dozens of passenger and cargo ships ply the Zamboanga-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi routes.
Meanwhile, infrastructure projects are also continuing in the province to support the growing economy and population.
Tan said a public library, a school building and a modern day care center are now being planned by the provincial government for construction in Jolo town. It will be equipped with the latest technological teaching materials and assorted reference handbooks and e-books, including Internet and desk top computers, among others.
The projects are estimated to cost at least P25-million and will benefit more students in the province.
Also recently, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol traveled to Sulu – on the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte – to personally see how the government could help more in the development of the province.
Piñol met with the governor and other stakeholders, including former Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan, who is actively involved in advocating fisheries and agricultural development in the province
He said food and beverage giant San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is also putting up investments in Sulu and these include a 20-megawatt power plant, a medium-sized feed mill facility using the corn and cassava produced by local farmers; and contract growing of poultry which could be exported to nearby Sabah in Malaysia.
Piñol said the President asked him personally to proceed to Sulu to assess the situation and determine what could be done to improve the conditions of the people.
He also met with top officials of the Agricultural Training Institute under the agriculture department and directed them to work out an arrangement with the Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade (HBSAT) in Sulu for a partnership.
“The ATI will help in the renovation of the dilapidated school buildings of HBSAT and transform the school into a training ground for tractor operators and mechanics and also for farmers and fishermen,” Piñol said.