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PH-Indonesia RoRo service up

PRESIDENT Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo shake hands at the launching of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung roll on/roll off shipping service in Davao City. (Keith Bacongco)

PRESIDENT Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo shake hands at the launching of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung roll on/roll off shipping service in Davao City. (Keith Bacongco)

President Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo yesterday launched the Davao-General Santos-Bitung roll on/roll off shipping service from Mindanao to North Sulawesi, Indonesia at the Sasa port in Davao City in a bid to further boost trade in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.

However, the vessel servicing the route, M/V Super Shuttle RoRo 12, left for its maiden voyage to Indonesia with five TEUs, flour cargoes owned by Pilmico Foods Corp., and 50 empty container vans or one percent of its total 500 20-foot equivalent unit capacity. The vessel is arriving in Indonesia on May 2.

Kim Pancho, Davao branch manager of Asian Marine Transport Corp., said the 50 empty container vans will be repositioned at the port in Bitung. He said a trip costs the shipping company R10 million.

Pancho said they are expecting more cargo load after the first voyage as there are companies that have shown interest to use the shorter route that takes only 1.5 to 2 days compared with three to five weeks for Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung sea route.

“Actually, the Bitung side (exporters) has committed. There will be more after second voyage,” he said.

Duterte said the ferry service is part of the larger ASEAN RoRo Shipping Network, which “will help ASEAN member-countries realize a collective goal of creating an integrated regional market.”

“This will also complement the country’s own domestic infrastructure modernization program,” he said before business and government delegations from both the Philippines and Indonesia at the launching of the new shipping route.

Duterte noted the two countries have links since the pre-colonial times through active barter trading and free flow of people from both territories then.
He said the bond between the Philippines and Indonesia is shaped by the vast seas that connect the two countries.

“During the past decades, we were further bound to strengthen our spirit of brotherhood with the forging of sister-city agreements that promote meaningful bonds of friendship among our peoples,” he stressed.

With the opening of the new maritime trade route, Duterte said this reaffirms the ties of both countries. He also stressed the importance of the new sea link to the aspirations of the larger ASEAN community.

He said the opening of the ASEAN RoRo route between the Philippines and Indonesia was a commitment he forged with Widodo during the ASEAN summit in September last year.

This route shall be the first of the many routes that will form the international RoRo network envisioned by our fellow ASEAN leaders to provide greater accessibility and open more opportunities for our countries, he said.

Duterte said the Davao-GenSan-Bitung route will not only connect the Philippines with the rest of ASEAN but “it will also physically integrate our respective archipelagos with the rest of the region.”

Widodo said the opening of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung route is an important milestone, noting “it stands as a symbol of friendship between the Filipino and Indonesian peoples.”

Widodo cited Duterte’s concern in bringing development to regions outside of the capital city of Manila. He said it is also the same move he is taking to achieve balance in Indonesia, where most of the development is now concentrated in the island of Java near the capital Jakarta.

“I hope this RoRo service between Davao and Indonesia presents new opportunities and new businesses,” Widodo said. (PNA and Antonio L. Colina IV)

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