Batam hosts ASEAN Connectivity pilot projects
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A number of pilot projects to implement ASEAN Connectivity will be implemented in Batam, Riau Islands, including ferry and flight routes to a number of ASEAN countries.
The Batam Free Trade Zone Management Board chief, Mustofa Wijaya, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that Batam was geographically located close to three ASEAN member states.
He said that movements of people and goods from Batam to Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand had been going on for quite some time, the area being well supported with sufficient transportation facilities.
Currently, for example, there are five passenger ferry terminals linking Batam with Malaysia and Singapore serving some 5,000 passengers per day.
“Infrastructure in Batam is ready to support ASEAN Connectivity. Its close location to three ASEAN countries has made connectivity no longer a new thing,” Mustofa said.
He said among the projects to support ASEAN Connectivity was the opening of Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro Ro) ferries linking Batam with Malaysia and Singapore. The feasibility study for the project would soon be carried out with operations slated for 2015.
Singapore is located some 20 kilometers northwest of Batam and can be reached from any of the passenger ferry terminals within 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the Stulang Laut terminal in the Malaysian state of Johor is reachable in one-and-a-half hours.
“For flights, Batam has been linked with Kuala Lumpur by a Malaysian airline for the past two years,” Mustofa said.
“We are also encouraging other flights to link Batam to other ASEAN states, such as the Philippines and Thailand, which have economic potential but depend on Singapore for air transportation.”
He added that his agency would invite domestic airlines as well as those from the destination countries to seek these opportunities.
Earlier, Indonesia’s permanent representative to ASEAN, Ngurah Swajaya, said a feasibility study to develop an ASEAN Ro Ro capability had been carried out with a route linking Davao in the Philippines with Bitung, North Sulawesi.
Further developments would see the opening of Ro Ro routes from Bitung to Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Thailand, Ngurah said during a visit to Batam from June 27 to 29.
He added that ASEAN Connectivity needed a yearly investment of some US$50 billion coming from a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
“China, the European Union, Japan and the United States have stated their interest in financing the drive because ASEAN will become a single market to support the creation of the ASEAN Community,” he said.