The government plans to open next year two new routes in its maritime highway program, the Transportation Ministry’s inspector general, Wahju Satrio Utomo, has said.

The additional routes will add to the 13 routes that are currently operational.

Speaking on the sidelines of a national coordination meeting on the program on Tuesday, Wahju said the ministry was gathering recommendations from regional administrations as well as private seaport operators on where to open the new routes.

“We hope the private sector can play a more active role in the maritime highway program,” he said.

The Transportation Ministry had proposed to allocate up to Rp 447 billion (US$33.1 million) for the program in the 2018 proposed state budget, said Wahju.

When approved, the figure would be 33.4 percent higher than the budget for the program this year.

During the two-day meeting, officials and operators also evaluated existing routes.

“If commercial shipping lines already entered the routes, we might not need to support it,” Wahju said.

State-owned port operator PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia (PT Pelni) currently serves seven routes, while private operators run the remaining six.

With better inter-island connectivity provided by the program, the government aims to lower the disparity between the prices of goods among regions across the sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, particularly in the eastern part where infrastructure is underdeveloped. (lnd)

Source : thejakartapost