ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – The Philippines wants to open additional sea links between its neighbors under the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
At present, only the Zamboanga-Sandakan, Sabah link is being regularly serviced by passenger vessels.
Additional sea links are being considered between Brookespoint in Palawan to Muara, Brunei Darussalam; Brookespoint to Kudat, Malaysia; Zamboanga to Muara; and Glan, Saranggani to Tahuna-Bitong, North Sulawesi Indonesia.
These links are expected to improve connectivity among the BIMP-EAGA countries mainly for trade, tourism, and investments.
Exploratory trade through the Glan-Tahuna-Bitong link between Glan and Tahuna, North Sulawesi, Indonesia has resulted in robust imports and exports.
Unfortunately, this was not sustained due to high costs.
Efforts to revive this connection are underway with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the municipalities of Glan and Parang, Maguindanao to share fuel costs, which are being subsidized by Glan and Sangihe government of Tahuna.
The Philippine government has poured in P26 million to improve port facilities in Glan, Saranggani with its roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) facility expected to be completed by September this year.
Like the port in Glan, both ports in Brookespoint and Zamboanga are capable of roll-on, roll-off operations.
The Philippines is pushing for the expansion of roll-on, roll-off port operations not only in the BIMP-EAGA sub-region but in the entire ASEAN organization, to help determine the economic viability of using Ro-Ro operations to improve travel and trade in ASEAN member states.