DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 January) – A Manila-based shipping company plans to make a trial call on a port in Bitung, Indonesia from Davao City within the first quarter of 2019, an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) 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.
MinDA public relations head Adrian Tamayo said on Monday that Reefer Express Lines will have two trips a month with a sailing period of one day.
He said it will skip General Santos City, citing lack of products from there as the reason.
“Due to port loadings. The product transfer is from Davao to Bitung. They still don’t have products from Gensan,” he said.
He said there is a “bright hope for RORO” that was launched on April 30, 2017 in Kudos Port, Davao City with President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo as a side event of the ASEAN Leaders Summit.
According to a briefer emailed to MindaNews last week, shipping company representatives met with MinDA officials on September 18, 2018 to discuss plans of servicing this new route in addition to their existing Davao to Middle East route.
It said 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.
It said various local and national firms are waiting for the resumption of the operations of this service as they are considering to utilize the route for their shipments.
“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 goods from Mindanao that can be shipped include 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.
He said the agency sees halal products, along with other top agricultural produce, as among the export commodities that Mindanao can take advantage of to meet a ship’s load requirement and eventually revive the Davao City-General Santos City-Bitung shipping route.
He said they are planning to strengthen the growing halal industry in Mindanao by putting up the required facilities such as halal-accredited agro-economic zones and ensuring that standardization is in place to support the Mindanawon producers.
He said there is an opportunity for Mindanao producers to tap the huge halal market in predominantly Muslim nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and even the Arab states in the Middle East.
He said they welcome investments in huge storage facilities for halal products in Mindanao, specifically for meat products.
“However, the problem is how to make sure that it’s halal, the handling should be halal, storage should be halal. The secretary is looking at the agro-economic zones components so that the handling of these products would be as competitive,” he said.
Tamayo said they also see a need to designate a consolidator from both sides to gather all the export products of Mindanao to ensure sufficient load and identify primary commodities needed, as the Philippine government hopes to revitalize the agreement with Indonesia this year.
“It has to be determined also by the businessmen and all the consolidators, so that there will be enough information either to focus on some products on our side and on the side of the partner country,” he said.
He said some Indonesian investors will come over this year to look for business partners in Mindanao and Palawan. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)