“Friendship bus route” seen to spur economic development in Marawi

From the RIzal Park, venue of the groundbreaking rites in Marawi’s Groujnd Zero on 30 October 2018, one can clearly see the beautiful Lake Lanao and the uglu ruins of the Padian (market). MindaNews photo by GG BUENO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 04 November) – The so-called “friendship bus route” between Davao City and Marawi City is expected to spur economic development in the country’s lone Islamic City after it was destroyed by a war between government forces and Islamic State-inspired groups in 2017, according to an official of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-Davao.

LTFRB-Davao director Nonito Llanos III told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) that the launch of this new bus route set for the third week of this month would make travel between the two cities much easier.

He added the bus operator that will serve this route will be known by next week.

Llanos said Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra lauded the opening of this new route.

He said Gandamra was optimistic this would help his city recover economically four years after the siege happened, as it would encourage freer movement of people between Marawi and Davao, touted as the center of commerce in Mindanao.

Llanos added there are several Meranaws from Marawi residing in Davao.

“He (Mayor Gandamra) said this is really a welcome development for his city because there are a lot of people from Marawi living in Davao for business and, at the same time, own businesses in Marawi… we have several Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters who are traveling through this route,” he said.

He said the peace and order situation had been discussed during a recent coordination meeting attended by LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra, Minister Dickson Hermoso of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, and other officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

He said the route would help promote tourism in Marawi.

The siege began on May 23, 2017 and lasted five months. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated combat operations on October 23, six days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the city “liberated from the terrorist influence.”

Llanos added that BARMM has vowed to protect the route to ensure “security and safety of the riding public, including the operator.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)