Source: The Jakarta Post 
Date: 15 September 2020 

The government has launched a new shipping route that will connect the modernized seaport in Selayar, South Sulawesi, with Surabaya in East Java. 

The modernized Rauf Rahman Benteng Port saw its first shipment on Monday after being officially opened by the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Ministry's infrastructure and transportation deputy secretary Lukijanto on Sept. 9. 

"Hopefully the route can help develop Selayar's economy and restore the region's past glory in the maritime sector," he said during a visit to the port on Monday, as quoted in a press statement.

The route was opened after state-owned seaport operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) IV modernized the seaport by improving its container-loading capability. 

Pelindo IV subsidiary SBU Intan Terminal Petikemas Indonesia Timur general manager Jusuf Junus said on Sept. 9 that the port's modernization was part of the maritime highway program, a long-running sea transportation program initiated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. 

The modernized Benteng Port currently has the capacity to load and unload 100 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers per month, which will be further increased to 200 TEU containers per month, according to Jusuf. 

"Selayar is located right on the maritime fulcrum, so voyaging ships go through the region. That's why Pelindo IV is keen to develop Selayar's port infrastructure," he said in a separate statement. 

The maritime highway, which has run since 2015, is a subsidized cargo program to distribute staple goods and major consumer items — including rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil and eggs — as well as steel and cement to remote regions in the archipelago. 

On June 21, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi stated that the government was relying on the maritime highway program to support logistics in the country amid disruption induced by the pandemic. 

"The maritime highway is expected to secure supply logistics all across Indonesia during the pandemic," Budi said. "To optimize the maritime highway program, all stakeholders need to take part to maximize the carrying capacity of the ships and reduce price disparities [among islands]."