DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Oct) — The business community here has lauded government’s decision to revive the Davao-Manila passenger shipping route starting Sunday, October 28.
“This is a welcome development. This will give an alternative to our travelers to take the ship in going to and from Manila,” Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Arturo Milan said in a text message Saturday.
Logistics firm 2GO Group Inc. will service the Davao-Manila route via General Santos and Iloilo through St. Michael the Archangel, a 100-TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent unit) capacity vessel that can accommodate about 1,900 passengers, to bring back “access to affordable, safe, and fast travel to ordinary Filipinos.”
Milan hopes the re-establishment of the shipping route will stir domestic tourism activities to generate more businesses and employment opportunities in the industry.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) in a press release on October 25 announced the re-establishment of ferry operations of the Davao-Manila route which aims “to interconnect Luzon to Mindanao, bring people closer, give passengers more travel options, and lower the prices of goods and commodities with the accessibility of freight containers from Davao to Manila and vice versa.”
Inaugural rites for the revived shipping route will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will launch the new and improved Passenger Terminal Building in Sasa Wharf, featuring modern amenities such as a pre-departure waiting area, screening areas for passengers and baggage, boarding gates, and clean comfort rooms.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the Manila-Davao route has not operated for a long time and it is only under the administration of President Duterte that this will be reopened. “Currently, the easiest way to reach Davao from Manila is through flying and some of our people cannot afford that. We want Luzon to be interconnected with Mindanao to likewise increase economic activity,” he said.
Passenger travel by ship from Davao to Manila stopped when domestic air travel became more affordable and the improvement of the road network in Mindanao,Visayas and Luzon made travel by bus possible from Davao to Manila via Surigao, crossing by ferry to Samar in the Visayas and from there to Manila in Luzon.
The P2 billion modernization of the decades-old 80,000-square meter Sasa Wharf in Davao will also commence next year, more than three years after attempts to start the project during the Aquino administration failed for lack of consultation with the city government, local stakeholders, and private sector.
The proposed modernization will include general upgrading of the general cargo berthing facilities and the port area to increase its capacity.
The Regional Development Council and the City Development Council under Mayor Sara Duterte recommended to push through with the delayed modernization.
The DOTR’s Oct. 25 press release said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte “will lead the inauguration.” But the President’s Sunday schedule, according to an advisory sent to reporters on Saturday, begins at 7 p.m. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)