FastCat, a fleet of catamaran-type roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels being operated by Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC), will be servicing the Palawan-Kudat sea link between the Philippines and Malaysia beginning February 2018.
“Ang matagal ng pangarap na magkaroon ng lehitimo at regular na biyahe ng barko mula Palawan patungo sa karatig na bansang Malaysia ay malapit nang maisakatuparan (The dream of having a legitimate and regular boat trip from Palawan to the neighboring country of Malaysia will soon become a reality),” a statement released by the Provincial Information Office (PIO) said.
FastCat has the capacity to transport 275 passengers; 35 vehicles and 12 lorry trucks on the car deck; has an elevator for people with disabilities; a cafeteria; and has a Ro-Ro ramp among others.
Via the said ferry line, travel from the Port of Buliluyan, Bataraza, southern Palawan, to Kudat Port in Malaysia will take six hours. It will leave Buliluyan in the morning and will return in the afternoon.
The announcement of the opening of the sea link route was done in a meeting held in Kota Kinabalu on December 26 among Kudat Assemblyman and Special Tasks Minister Datuk Seri Teo Chee Kang, Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez, BIMP-EAGA Regional Chairman Datuk Roselan Juhar and other officials of the provincial government, Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd and Suria Capital.
Teo was quoted as saying that ramps in the Kudat and Buliluyan ports are now ready to welcome Ro-Ro vessels. They are fitted with CIQS (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security) centers that will process passenger documents.
“We expect that these new routes from Buliluyan, Palawan to Kudat, Malaysia will further boost the tourism industries between your province and Kota Kinabalu,” Teo said.
Alvarez, for his part, thanked the Kota Kinabalu officials for the latest development and expressed optimism that both ports would not only spell success to both areas’ tourism industries but commerce and trade as well.