Makassar, South Sulawesi (ANTARA) - Indonesia's seaport operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) IV is ready to build the Manado Marine Bay to support the Bitung-Davao route to facilitate direct export from areas in North Sulawesi to the Philippines.

PT Pelindo IV's Managing Director, Farid Padang, noted in a press statement in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Friday, that the plan to build Manado Marine Bay and preparation of the Bitung-Davao route was submitted to State Enterprises (BUMN) Minister Rini M. Soemarno and Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi shortly before President Joko Widodo's (Jokowi's) review last week in Manado.

"In fact, we have prepared the master plan for Manado Marine Bay. Construction of this port also aims to support integrated tourism programs," Farid noted.

For the project, Pelindo IV has intensely coordinated with the North Sulawesi Provincial Government (Pemprov), Manado City Government (Pemkot), and Bitung City Government.

"We are targeting to complete the development plans (pertaining to the Manado Marine Bay) in two years, with the construction to be finished in 2020. That is in accordance with President Jokowi's expectations," he noted.

Farid noted that the Manado Marine Bay was being constructed in the tourist area of Bunaken Marine Park in a bid to support the Manado city government's program to transform it into a City of Tourism and City for Organizing Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) activities.

In addition to building the Manado Marine Bay, this port BUMN will develop Manado Port, which is building four piers of size measuring 6 x 10 meters, dredge the depth of the four-port harbor, and construct a passenger terminal spanning an area of 1,600 square meters and stacking area of 2,150 meters square.

It is also willing to support direct export activities from Bitung to the Philippines through Davao and immediately prepare the Bitung-Davao route.

Pelindo IV has already prepared the Bitung-Davao route for direct export to the Philippines using the Super Shuttle RoRo 12.

Related news: Jokowi, Duterte inaugurate Davao-Bitung Ro-Ro ferry service

The opening of the Davao-Bitung route at that time was a welcome relief, as North Sulawesi's exports were earlier conducted through Jakarta, then to Singapore, before going through Manila until finally to Davao.

Before the opening of the Davao-Bitung route, North Sulawesi's total exports to the Philippines had reached US$23.82 million. The Bitung-Davao route is part of the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan and the blueprint of The East Asean Growth Area that had been initiated since 1994.

This initiative involved the four ASEAN nations of Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines. During that time, the Ministry of Transportation had estimated the travel time on the Davao-General Santos-Tahuna-Bitung route to only take eight days and cost US$550 per TEUs, considered far more economical than the conventional line from Bitung to Manila that took five weeks and cost $2,000 per TEUs.

The Ministry of Transportation also urged Pelindo IV to offer special discounts for shipping on the Bitung-Davao route. "In principle, we agree to provide such incentives (special discounts)," Farid noted.

He remarked that to boost the volume of exports to the Philippines and vice versa, goods to meet household and electronic requirements can be sent directly from the Philippines to Bitung to ensure the route will be sustainable.

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Translator: Eliswan Azly
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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