By ANTONIO L. COLINA IV, MindaNews
DAVAO City — M/V Super Shuttle RORO 12, the vessel servicing the Davao-GenSan-Bitung route left for the Indonesian port Sunday, loaded with only one percent of its 500-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) total cargo capacity.
The route was launched by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Kim Pancho, Davao branch manager of Asian Marine Transport Corp., told reporters after the launch at the Kudos Port in Sasa here Sunday that the inaugural voyage only carried five TEUs and 50 20-foot empty container vans that will be repositioned at the port in Bitung.
He said it costs the shipping company P10 million per trip. The shipping schedule, according to earlier announcements, is weekly.
Super Shuttle is expected to arrive in Bitung, North Sulawesi on May 2.
The Aboitiz-led Pilmico Foods Corp., a flour milling company, was the only company that committed to ship its product during the inaugural voyage. But Pancho said more cargo load is expected during the second voyage, following the interest of the companies to take advantage of the shorter route.
“Actually, the Bitung side (exporters) has committed. There will be more after the second voyage,” he said.
Shipment period for this route takes only about 1.5 to two days compared with five weeks for the Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung route, Pancho said.
The shipment cost of the Davao-GenSan-Bitung route is also cheaper at P34,713 per TEU compared with P109,098 per TEU for the Davao-Manila-Jakarta-Bitung route.
He urged traders to use this RORO route and sought help from both governments of Indonesia and Philippines to relax the process of securing permits.
He said they are asking the government here for a fuel subsidy to help sustain the operations.
Products that can be exported to Indonesia include animal feeds, aqua products, charcoal, coffee beans, construction materials, copra, feed ingredients, fertilizers, food and beverages, fresh fruits, ice cream products, meats, peanuts, poultry (halal), soya, sugar, and synthetics.
Gift toys, housewares, pharmaceuticals, and fresh fruits are restricted for now. But Pancho said they are still negotiating for fresh fruits to be exported, this being the primary export of Mindanao.
Aside from Pilmico, Trade secretary Ramon Lopez also named CDO Foodsphere Inc., San Miguel Corporation, Franklin Baker, Unilever, FEMSA Coca Cola, and ACS Manufacturing as among the large companies that have signified interest to use this route.
He said the government sees a huge and vast potential “that will spell a big difference most especially to micro, small, and medium enterprises” to trade across the borders.
The greater connectivity, Lopez said, will broaden the expansion of trade among the ASEAN countries. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)
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