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BARMM stakeholders elated over new direct Zamboanga-Cotabato bus route

COTABATO CITY — Stakeholders were elated over the launch of a pioneering Zamboanga-Cotabato route last Friday.

The new route is essential to the connectivity of residents of the three Bangsamoro island provinces to the capitol of the autonomous regional government.

Bangsamoro Transportation and Communications Minister Paisalin Pangandaman Tago told reporters on Sunday that he and his subordinate-officials in agencies under him are thankful to the Rural Transit Mindanao Incorporated or RTMI for finally responding to clamors for its units to ply through the route, a longtime wish of residents of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Cotabato City.

Zamboanga City is the entry and exit point for residents of the three island provinces who come to Cotabato City for transactions in regional offices of different ministries in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“From Zamboanga City they can now ride buses that would bring them direct to Cotabato City without disembarking in stations in between to transfer to another bus plying through very limited distances on that route,” Tago said.

Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Hataman Salliman said on Sunday that among his constituents who shall benefit from RMTI’s direct Zamboanga-Cotabato trips are provincial personnel of the Bangsamoro education ministry frequenting their regional office in Cotabato City to follow up promotions, reassignments and apply for retirement from the service.

“Their travel from Zamboanga City to Cotabato City and back shall be convenient because the air-conditioned units of this bus company are new and clean. The company has assured of that,” Salliman said.

Travel time from Zamboanga City to Cotabato City is about 13 to 15 hours, costing P1,100 per passenger, according to an announcement by MRTI over radio stations on Saturday. 

Tago said that he has directed the directors of the MoTC-BARMM’s Land Transportation Office and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to initiate periodic dialogues with officials of the MRTI and its drivers and conductors to plan out measures on how they can together ensure the welfare and safety of passengers of buses travelling through the Zamboanga-Cotabato