Home » Maritime » Shippers push reopening of General Santos-Bitung route

MINDANAO shippers are urging government to revive an initiative to relaunch the General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia route to boost competitiveness of products from Southern Philippines and lower cost by eliminating transshipment to Manila.

“There were pronouncements by the government to revive the shipping route but there were no serious studies being made on the viability of the route like the potential demand of Philippine products in Indonesia and vice-versa,” the Mindanao Federation of Shippers Association (Minfesa) said in a document provided to PortCalls.

“Also, marketing strategies have to be formulated and… aggressively promoted to both Philippine and Indonesian companies for the route to succeed,” it added.

It said the Mindanao Economic Development Council, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Maritime Industry Authority need to aggressively promote the route and conduct a thorough study of commodities that can be shipped to Indonesia.

“In return, the shippers through the Minfesa will help promote the route to Mindanao shippers,” Minfesa said.

In 2003, a regular shipping service was established between General Santos and Bitung but this lasted less than six months due to cargo imbalance. The average volume of inbound cargoes was 40-50 TEUs against 5 TEUs for outbound.

The proposed General Santos-Bitung feeder corridor is expected to enhance trade under the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) initiative. It offers the shortest distance between North Sulawesi and Southern Mindanao under the EAGA framework — about 18 sailing hours from point to point.

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