By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – A Manila-based shipping company plans to make a trial call to a port in Bitung, Indonesia from Davao City within the first quarter of 2019, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) public relations head Adrian Tamayo said.
The Davao-General Santos City-Bitung RORO route was launched on April 30, 2017 but the shipping companies servicing this route had to stop due to lack of cargo.
Tamayo said the Reefer Express Lines will have twice monthly trips.
He said it will skip General Santos City due to lack of products.
He said travel period from Davao to Bitung takes about one day.
“Due to port loadings. The product transfer is from Davao to Bitung. They still don’t have products from Gensan,” he said.
In an emailed briefer from MinDA, some representatives from the shipping company met with MinDA officials on September 18, 2018 to discuss plans of servicing this new route in addition to their existing operations from Davao to the Middle East.
It added the Reefer Express Lines, which utilizes a 200-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) conventional vessel that can accommodate both dry and frozen cargos, also plans to expand to Japan next year to bring premium banana exports from Mindanao to the Japanese market.
The initial all-in rate estimate is $1,700, it added.
Various local and national firms wanted to utilize Davao-Bitung service for their shipments, it said.
“Opening up this route will provide greater access for local businessmen to engage in international trade, as well as stimulate other areas of development such as a joint tourism promotion, establishment of direct air linkages, and increate in investment inflows, among others,” it said.
For the Davao-Bitung service, the initially identified goods from Mindanao that can be shipped include, among others, feeds, fertilizer, ice cream products, poultry, synthetics, packaging materials while imports are matured coconut, copra, corn, lumber, cement, high value crops, peanuts, aqua products, charcoal, soya, coffee beans, and sugar.
Tamayo said MinDA is pushing for the strengthening of halal production as it sees halal products, along with other top agricultural produce, as among the export commodities that Mindanao can take advantage to meet the load requirement of a shipping vessel and eventually revive the Davao City-General Santos City-Bitung shipping route.