SHIPPING operators in the Philippines and Indonesia have shown interest in the General Santos-Bitung route, which connects two of the few designated ports of the ASEAN.
Asian Marine Transport Corp (AMTC) is keen on plying the route, according to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as are roll-on, roll-off operators, although many of the latter are looking at operational subsidy and other financial support to help them provide the transport services.
JICA noted the local chambers of commerce and industry and other entities had signed a memorandum of cooperation for the Bitung-General Santos-Davao roro shipping link.
One signatory was AMTC, which provides shuttle roro /passenger services in the Philippines.
JICA assured one roro vessel would ply the General Santos-Bitung route twice a week once it is opened.
“When there is substantial traffic at Sangir Besar Island, the vessel will drop by Tahuna port, as an optional arrangement. When vessel space tightens due to increased demand, one more round trip will be added in the operation plan,” it said.
Based on JICA’s roro shipping traffic projections for 2015-2035 for the General Santos-Bitung route on a weekly basis, cargo volume will grow to 320 tons in 2015, increasing further to 360 tons in 2020, to 400 tons in 2025 and 510 tons by 2035.
The agency sees cargo loads that include fish-related products, particularly tuna, coco fiber, as well as daily commodities from East Asia and North America.
Container (without chassis) traffic is seen at 24 by 2015, rising to 35 in 2025 and further to 50 by 2035.
The existing direct service is scarce. Cargo to be converted from direct shipping volume is far from sufficient to meet the projected roro demand.
“Due to imbalanced cargo demand flows, the proposed roro shipping will transport Indonesian cargo of 192 tons a week or 9,982 tons a year in 2015. The amount is equivalent to 11.4% of the all convertible and inducible cargo from Bitung/Manado/Tahuna to General Santos/Davao,” JICA said.
On the Philippine side, the proposed roro shipping will transport 128 tons of cargo a week or 6,656 tons a year in 2015. This volume will account for 35% of the overall convertible and inducible cargo from General Santos/Davao to Bitung/Manado/Tahuna, the agency said.
Photo from shuttleferry.com