| Lyna Mohamad & Ishan Ibrahim |
THE BIGGEST challenge of BIMP-EAGA is how to integrate a geographically disjointed area separated by distance and by sea, Minister for Transportation of the Republic of Indonesia Ignatius Jonan said in his speech delivered on his behalf by Secretary-General at the Ministry of Transportation, Indonesia, Santoso Eddy Wibowo yesterday at the 9th BIMP-EAGA Transport Ministers’ Meeting.
The focus areas of the sub-region are widely spread apart and composed of many islands, hence members of BIMP-EAGA work hand in hand through many forums to tackle the various challenges faced by the region.
This, he added, has resulted in significant developments and achievements in terms of transport connectivity in the BIMP-EAGA region in order to facilitate cross-border movement of passengers and goods through sea, air and land linkages.
The new institutional structure of BIMP-EAGA, which came into effect last year, underscores the commitment to promote greater connectivity and synergy in the sub-region as efficient, reliable and integrated transportation networks are vital ingredients in realising the full potential of the economies of the sub-region.
Although significant progresses in the implementation of transport initiatives have been made, there are substantial challenges and these raise the need for us to strengthen cooperation to maintain and build on what we have achieved so far and to facilitate the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
These MoUs, namely Expansion on Air Linkages, Establishment of Efficient and Integrated Shopping Services, Cross Border Movement of Commercial Buses and Coaches and Transit and Inter-state Transport of Goods, should be followed up by substantive mapping of action plans with the involvement of the business community.
The minister also highlighted that the BIMP-EAGA Transport Ministers Meeting is a venue to exchange views on the current development infrastructure facilities and services in the region and enable leaders to address the various issues and concerns facing BIMP-EAGA’s transport cooperation and integration initiatives.
He added that BIMP-EAGA sub-region has vast potential for development, with abundant labour and rich natural resources.
This richness can transform the BIMP-EAGA region into a powerful growth area when combined with the financial strength and entrepreneurial skills of a dynamic private sector through BIMP-EAGA Business Council as a key player in promoting economic cooperation in the sub-region.