Editorial: Improving ferry service-A A +A
Thursday, February 28, 2013
THE repair of the first Mactan-Mandaue bridge and the inconvenience it has spawned has allowed both the public and some government officials to be forward-looking and prompted them to propose alternatives to the current setup.
First district Rep. Eduardo Gullas, a former Cebu governor, was quick to point out the need for a third bridge that would connect Mactan island, and with it the Mactan Cebu International Airport, to the Cebu mainland. Or it could be a tunnel.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who chairs the Regional Development Council, questioned in a radio interview why the two existing bridges had to be built near each other. He reiterated his proposal to connect Cebu City directly to Mactan island (bypassing Mandaue City) by connecting the city with nearby Cordova town either by a bridge or a tunnel.
But even as Gullas and Rama spoke, ordinary commuters were already focusing on the short-term solution, which is to use ferry boats from Pier 3 in the city to cross Mactan channel and dock in Muelle Osmeña in Lapu-Lapu City. This route has long been neglected but has potentials.
In the old days when the first Mactan-Mandaue bridge was not yet constructed, passenger vessels and barges enjoyed brisk business ferrying people and vehicles to and from the Cebu mainland. But the construction of the two bridges made travel there cheaper and relatively safer. The ferry boat business suffered.
More so as concerned government officials seemed not to see the need to maximize the use of this alternative route by improving the docking facilities and connecting roads and encouraging the use of better sea vessels, thereby attracting more passengers. The signs of government neglect and lack of creativity can be seen everywhere in that route.
We were once a sea faring people that used extensively the coastlines and waterways (rivers and the sea) of the archipelago for travel and transport of goods. That changed with the construction of roads in the interior of islands, and sea travel ended up being reserved only for inter-island travel.
That does not mean that the use of waterways should be abandoned. The point is, geography has not changed. The shorter route to Mactan island from Cebu City is not through the Mandaue-Mactan bridge but crossing Mactan channel directly.
Without a tunnel, or whatever major infrastructure-obsessed officials can conceive, improving the ferry service and increasing passenger traffic in that route remains a viable option.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 01, 2013.