NASIPIT, Agusan del Norte (MindaNews / 9 Dec) – A shipping company has made its maiden voyage on Wednesday evening (December 8) from Cebu to Nasipit Port in Agusan del Norte and will return to its port of origin Thursday night, adding a new sea transport service in the Caraga Region.
“After a long wait due to the pandemic, we have finally made our first route here and we are happy to serve the people in … Caraga and Misamis Oriental,” Shane Arante, Starlite Ferries general manager, told reporters here Thursday during a press briefing aboard MV Starlite Saturn.
MV Starlite Saturn is the shipping company’s second vessel servicing Mindanao. Its first vessel, MV Stella Maris, has been plying the Cebu-Surigao route since 2019.
Starlite Ferries is one of the subsidiaries of Chelsea Logistics.
“This new route aims to provide passengers and shippers an alternative option to travel and conduct business in the bustling town of Nasipit. As the major seaport in Agusan del Norte, the Nasipit Port’s strategic location ensures the unhampered movement of essential goods, services, and passengers,” Arante said.
He revealed that the five-year-old passenger ship was built by Kegoya Dock Co., Ltd. Of Japan and specifically designed for the Philippine waters.
MV Starlite Saturn, Arante revealed, has a gross tonnage (GRT) of 2,700 and a carrying capacity of 340 passengers, 26 units of rolling cargoes, including private vehicles, jeeps, buses, and six- and 10- wheeler trucks. Its accommodation types range from recliners, tourist, and economy.
Starlite Ferries now plies the Cebu-Nasipit route on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays with the MV Starlite Saturn at 8 p.m. The vessel’s return trips will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 6 p.m.; MV Starlite Pioneer will help out to fill the gap on Saturdays.
“[MV Starlite Saturn] is part of the Chelsea Group’s vessel modernization program, providing safer, more convenient, and more comfortable sea transportation services to our passengers,” Arante added.
Chelsea Logistics president and chief executive officer Chryss Damuy emphasized the Group’s commitment to provide the channel for economic activities to thrive such as transportation and tourism.
“Our eyes are fixed on improving the supply chain while protecting the well-being of passengers and seafarers. That’s why as of today, Starlite land-based and sea-based employees are 96% fully vaccinated, while the whole Chelsea Group is at 90%,” he pointed out.
With the decreasing rate of new COVID-19 cases and the increasing number of vaccinated Filipinos, he said the Chelsea Group has been seeing significant improvements in its passage and cargo services.
Mildred Padilla, manager of Philippine Ports Authority-Nasipit, welcomed this development, saying this will open up more opportunities especially in the northern part of Mindanao, particularly in Caraga.
“Our dear farmers will have now an option to transport their harvests to Cebu and Visayas region using this new shipping line company,” she said.
Padilla said that before Starlite Ferries’ entry, only Cokaliong Shipping Lines was plying the Nasipit-Cebu-Nasipit route. Now, she noted, the ferry trip to Cebu has become daily.
Nasipit Mayor Enrico Corvera, who graced the official launching, said more opportunities will come along with the entry of MV Starlite Saturn.
“We have bananas, milk fish, rice and other agricultural products. Our farmers will be happy because this is way cheaper to transport their yield,” he added. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)