Investors urged to explore Davao-Gensan-Bitung route

DAVAO CITY -- The chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has urged participants of the Davao Investment Conference (Davao ICon) 2019 to explore the Davao-GenSan-Bitung shipping route to boost trade between Mindanao and Indonesia.

This was the message of lawyer Nathaniel D. Dalumpines, the newly-appointed chairman of MinDA, during the Davao ICon held at the SMX Convention Center on Thursday.

The Davao-GenSan-Bitung route was revived on June 16 using Reefer Filipinas as the new player. The cargo ship is scheduled to dock at Davao City's Kudos Port on July 6.

"Let us sustain this route, which puts a premium on Mindanao's strategic location to the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) and the larger Asean," he said in his message read by MinDA Director Ole Dagala.

The route, which was launched in 2017 as a private sector-led initiative, was suspended due to a very low load factor and revived again using a smaller vessel.

The BIMP-EAGA initiative was launched in 1994 as a cooperation initiative by the four BIMP-EAGA nations to accelerate economic development in areas that are geographically distant from their national capitals, yet in strategic proximity to each other, in one of the world's most resource-rich regions that include the Heart of Borneo and Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion, according to the Asian Development Bank's website.

Dalumpines affirmed MinDA's commitment to continue supporting private sector-led initiatives and interventions that will promote and advance the welfare and interest of the region.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) president Arturo Milan, in an interview, said the Reefer operator held business matching as part of the investment conference with the presence of its chief executive officer Felix Ishizuka.

Milan said prospective partners -- Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean delegates/businessmen – joined the conference.

He said Reefer will ply the Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Davao route.

"I hope it will generate a lot of interest now that it will use a smaller vessel, which is more manageable to fill up the volume of cargoes. When fully developed with an increasing volume, then a bigger ship could be used," Milan added.

He said there is a need to sustain this service through continuous trading and product exchange.

Milan also committed DCCCII's help to sustain the route and encourage investors and traders to consider it.

It may be recalled that the first vessel used for the route was too large at 500 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) capacity, prompting MinDA to look for a smaller vessel to continue the route.

Reefer Filipinas is a Manila-based company recently established to support the Philippines in reviving the route.

The company will use a conventional type vessel with load capacity of up to 290 TEU, and 10,000 loose cargoes.

For its first sail, the shipping service started off at the Ho Chi Minh Port last June 16 then traveled to Labuan and Sepanggar in Malaysia, Bitung and Ternate in Indonesia, GenSan and Davao City as its final port of call. (PNA)

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