BARMM, MinDA execs welcome opening of Maguindanao-Basilan ferry route
ILIGAN CITY — Officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) have expressed optimism the opening of a new ferry route between Maguindanao and Basilan provinces would generate more economic opportunities within the region.
The ferry service kicked off last April 25 with the 567-ton MV Island Paradise roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ship leaving Polloc port and 3:30 p.m. carrying BARMM Transportation Minister Paisalin Tago and other executives of the ministry.
After sailing more than 16 hours, the boat docked at the Lamitan City port the next day, welcomed by Basilan Gov. Jim Hataman-Salliman, who hailed the increased connectivity of the island province with the Bangsamoro mainland that augurs well in boosting local trade and investment in the region.
The United States government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), supported the BARMM in opening the route by training its transportation officials and staff on infrastructure development.
USAID, through its Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (Respond) project implemented by the University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, also facilitated a series of multi-stakeholder workshops that enabled private sector support for maritime connectivity in the region.
“Strengthening maritime trade routes and intermodal transport systems will open doors for more trade and investment in the region, including in the tourism industry,” USAID Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn said.
“Additionally, this route will bring down transport cost of businesses by as much as 20 to 30 percent and reduce wastage of agricultural products that are inevitable if transported by land due to poor road conditions and connectivity,” Washburn added.
The new route cuts by at least six hours the travel time between Maguindanao and Basilan.
Tago said this first leg of the maritime connectivity network would pave the way for more commercial routes, including in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and possibly extend beyond the country’s borders as an international shipping company is also exploring the inclusion of Polloc port in an existing ASEAN RORO network that includes Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
MinDA Chair Maria Belen Acosta noted that the partnership would reinforce the position of BARMM as an international gateway that would increase trade activities in transport, business, telecoms, and tourism.
Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao