In an apparent effort to increase trade with its ASEAN neighbors, the Philippines will officially be opening its back door with the launch in April of a weekly sea service having a vessel capacity of 100 twenty-foot containers that will reduce shipping time from five weeks to five days.
Khayr Alonto II
Abul Khayr Amalon M. Alonto II, Mindanao Development Authority (MDA) chief of the staff, said in his presentation before some 70 businessmen at the investment conference by the Philippine Export Processing Zone (PEZA), Feb. 12 that the new sea route to the ASEAN will link Davao and General Santos cities in Mindanao to the Port of Bitung in North Sulawesi in Indonesia.
Davao City is 635 kms from the port; General Santos, 515kms.
“At the moment,” Alonto told The Filipino Times, “all shipments that comes from Indonesia go to the Manila port and it takes about five weeks.”
With this new route, Alonto said, “it will take about five days maximum.”
“This will spur investments in Mindanao,” he further said.
Alonto said the ASEAN Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) ferry service will provide a faster and cheaper channel of trading goods among the key cities in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.
M/V Super Shuttle RORO 14, the vessel operated by Asian Marine Transport Corp. has a capacity of 100 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units), a unit of cargo capacity used to described capacity of cargo ships.
“The opening of the route is a more cost- and time-efficient alternative to the usual Manila-to-Bitung route,” said Alonto.