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Indonesian President’s maritime highway plan to see tweaks

Indonesian President’s maritime highway plan to see tweaks
Indonesian president Joko Widodo's much vaunted maritime highway programme is set to see a revision as it is been belatedly noticed that there is duplication between the subsidised routes in the programme and existing routes provided by the private sector.

Local media reported that the programme will undergo a revision as the government seeks to increase efficiency and reduce competition with the private sector.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi was quoted as saying that the government considering scrapping several routes that were already being sailed by commercial shipping companies.

“The government’s and the private sector’s roles should be more balanced. Therefore, the maritime highway routes should be focused on non-commercial routes, while the commercial ones should be given to private operators or state enterprises,” he said.

State shipping firm Pelni has currently been designated to run six routes particularly to the poorly served eastern part of the country. The routes connect major ports, such as Tanjung Perak in East Java and Tanjung Priok in North Jakarta, with remote areas, such as Tual in Maluku.

However it was found that parts of these routes already have commercial operators serving therm. For example, Budi said, the route from Tanjung Priok to Biak in Papua, with stops in Makassar, South Sulawesi; Manokwari and Wasior in West Papua; and Nabire and Serui in Papua, already has commercial lines operating the Jakarta-South Sulawesi sector and as a result could potentially be changed to just South Sulawesi-Papua instead.

“There is a large port there [in Makassar, South Sulawesi] and the price of rice is also similar to the price in Java — why do we have to travel there?” he said.

Other route revisions might also include the Jakarta-Riau Islands-West Kalimantan route that may be altered to cover just the Riau Islands-West Kalimantan sector, Budi said.

Pelni has been notified of the revisions and Budi added that the ministry was preparing to put on tender as many as three additional routes for private shipping companies in the next two weeks. Operations for the three new routes are scheduled for next year.

Indonesian National Shipowners Association (INSA) chairman Carmelita Hartoto said the planned route revision would create healthier competition between the private sector and the government.

The association has also proposed several other routes be revised, including ones that connect East Java-Maluku-Papua and East Java-East Nusa Tenggara, as private firms already sail those routes.