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Indonesian diplomat urges businessmen to use Davao-GenSan-Bitung RoRo route

MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
Davao City | February 16, 2017

The Indonesian consul general in Davo City urged the business sector to use the Davao-GenSan-Bitung RoRo (Roll on/Roll-off) route to bring significant economic development to Mindanao in the Philippines side and Bitung in Indonesia.

Consul General Berlian Napitupulu said the connectivity is very timely as it will become operational when formally launched on April 28, 2017.

Speaking at Wednesday's Habi at Kapi Forum in Abreeza Ayala Mall, Napitupulu said now is the right time to implement the new Ro-Ro route since Mindanao is the priority of the Philippine government for development.

"Of course, the President will put emphasis on this project because he was also involved in the initiation of this project," he said.

The project was first conceptualized when President Rodrigo Duterte was the mayor of Davao City.

Bitung and Mindanao are parts of the economic development polygon named BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines - Economic Growth Area). It was formed by the four Governments in March 1994 with the goal of increasing trade, investment, and tourism in the region.

BIMP-EAGA  consists of the entire Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; 10 provinces on the islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Irian Jaya in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Palawan and Mindanao in the Philippines.

There are plans of having Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo to lead the send-off of the maiden voyage but he said it is not yet definite. President Widodo will be coming to the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit, he added.

Napitupulu said with this route, there will be more direct trade although there are already 50 Indonesia products penetrating the Philippine markets.

"There will be dramatic change and significant impact with this RoRo," he said.

He said that under the existing route, the cargoes reach Manado in three to five weeks, passing first to Manila then Manila to Manado.

If cargo shipment passes through the GenSan-Bitung route, Napitupulu said it will just be less than three days with lesser cost so price of commodities will be lower.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Monteverde, past president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) and proponent of the ASEAN RoRo project, said the RoRo would lessen the value of time and the transportation cost between countries and would enhance trading.

Monteverde cited instances when shipment of goods from China to Jakarta takes about a week; then, Jakarta to Manado for another two to three weeks. Whereas, she added, this RoRo would hasten trading through the Philippines which is a strategic hub for distribution of goods all over Asia.

Monteverde said the required volume of cargoes for shipment is at 300 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and the type of cargoes are still being identified.

Among the in-bound cargoes are cement, guano fertilizer, copra, aluminum ingots, activated carbon/coconut shells, furniture. The out-bound cargoes are dressed poultry, assorted cuts of pork, fruits, packaging materials.(With story from PNA)
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