FERRY and barge services are being arranged to help save commuters between mainland Cebu and Mactan Island from the “horrendous traffic” that began with bridge repairs last Monday.
Cebu Port Authority (CPA) General Manager Edmund Tan said the agency will help organize ferry services between Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City, as well as Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu.
For his part, Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella wrote the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) to request a barge service that can transport vehicles between the islands.
He told Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya that the repairs on the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge, which started last Monday, has caused “horrendous traffic.”
In Cebu, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 Director Ador Canlas met with officials of the CPA, local government units (LGUs), Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), shipping lines, and trucking services.
In the meantime, the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge was reopened to two-way traffic while the contractor is still working on the sidewalks.
In a press statement, Mactan airport’s private managers advised airline passengers in Cebu to head for the airport three to four hours before their departure, to avoid missing flights.
They are “coordinating with the government agencies, including DPWH and MCIAA, to reach an interim solution to help decongest traffic to and from Mactan-Cebu International Airport,” said Chief Executive Adviser Andrew Aquaah Harisson of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC).
He said they are also working with taxi services and MyBus to maximize transport options.
Vice Mayor Labella experienced the “horrendous traffic” first-hand.
He accompanied one of his children to the airport yesterday and it took them four hours to get there. It used to take them less than an hour.
“Though we agree that the repairs are quintessential to ensure the structural integrity and prolong the serviceability of the bridge, it has brought effects inimical to the safety and convenience of drivers and commuters,” he said in his two-page letter.
Labella pointed out in his letter that “the use of barges had proved to be effective during the time when Typhoon Ruping caused heavy damage to the bridge, thus prompting the government to close it for repairs in 1990.”
Copies of his letter were furnished to the CPA, Marina, Coast Guard, and airport authority.
Mayor Michael Rama also supports reviving the barge service and said that the City Government would be willing to allow these to dock at the South Road Properties, since there is a jetty there.
“We are ready to serve the people than have them go through hours of inconvenience,” he said.
When Rama flew to Manila yesterday morning, he said he was lucky enough that he did not get stuck in traffic for long.
In an interview, he suggested that Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III meet with all officials of Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City, among others, to discuss contingency plans while the bridge is under repair.
In an interview, Tan of CPA said that Lite Shipping will provide two LCT barges to connect Ouano Wharf in Looc, Mandaue City and Kasamahan Wharf near General Milling Corp. in Lapu-Lapu City.
Gothong will also provide LCTS but their area of operations is still to be determined. Ouano Wharf near the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge can only accommodate two LCTS.
“We are also contacting Metro Ferry to add more vessels to ply between Pier 3 and Anton’s/Marina Yacht Club for this,” Tan said.
There’s a plan to berthing fees to entice more operators of barge and ferry services between mainland Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.
Canlas will also meet today with Mayor Paz Radaza, officials of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and resort owners in Lapu-Lapu City to request them to allow barges and ferries to dock at their private wharves.
Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu Province, 6th District) said that ferry service should not only be an alternative solution to the traffic problem, but a permanent alternative transport service.
Speaking in the 888 News Forum, Quisumbing said that a ferry from Umapad, Mandaue City needs only 10 minutes to reach Ibo, Lapu-Lapu City.
The DOTC has repeatedly postponed repairs on the first bridge and asked the public for patience.
As last Monday was a public holiday, the full effects of the bridge repairs on traffic did not become apparent until yesterday, with delivery trucks full of goods stuck in the gridlock, and schoolchildren and workers arriving late, despite having left their homes earlier than usual.