Line at Matnog Port reaches at least 6 km

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(UPDATE) If conditions remain unchanged, the wait to cross over to the disaster-stricken Visayas Region can take up to two days

LONG LINE. In Matnog Port, a long queue of trucks and vehicles wanting to reach the Visayas region reach up to 6km. Photo by Rappler/Rupert Ambil

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Passengers in a long line of trucks and vehicles that stretches for at least 6 kilometers (about the distance from Megamall to the Makati Business District) are waiting to board ferries at the Matnog Port in the southern tip of Sorsogon.

Port Manager Rosenda Sumagaysay said the number of vessels in the Bicol port could not accommodate the passengers waiting in line as of Friday, November 15.

“There’s a long queue because there are not enough vessels,” she said in a phone interview, at the same time appealing to shipping operators to send back-up vessels to the port.

If conditions stay unchanged, passengers already queued up may have to wait for at least two days before they could board a ferry to the Visayas. If more passengers come, they may have to wait longer.

Passengers in the port “have ballooned” in number and stand at 5,535 as of last count. On Wednesday, November 13, over 4,000 passengers were waiting in the port, double the daily average of 1,800-2,500 passengers.

The port we can manage, but we can’t do anything about the lack of vessels,” she said. “We are constantly coordinating with MARINA [Maritime Industry Authority] who promised to provide 2 more vessels to augment the current 8 vessels here.”

The port official added that her office has been continuously receiving priority requests from different government agencies, relief organizations, and media teams.

“I have opened two ramps already, 4 ramps for the 8 current vessels,” said Sumagaysay. The 2 additional ramps were for any additional vessels to be sent to Matnog.

In an advisory Saturday, November 16, Sumagaysay said motorists’ assistance centers have been set up in the towns of Castilla, Juban, Irosin, and Bulan.

She discouraged motorists to overtake other vehicles for the sake of getting ahead in line, as they will be given queue numbers.

Malou Calubaquib, Police Information Officer of Bicol Police Regional Office 5 (PR05), said requests for priority are to be coordinated at the PRO5 for systematic boarding.

Priority is given to relief loads, she said, which will be escorted by the police to the port.

Sumagaysay said passengers on queue even include light vehicles that want to cross to Allen, Northern Samar – the other side of the port – to find their missing loved ones in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Yolanda unleashed its fury a week ago on Friday, November 8, washing away homes, causing deaths in the thousands, and leaving the rest scouring for food just to survive. –

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