BY JUDY PARTLOW
Barge trips of the Maayo Shipping Inc., ferrying essential goods and passengers on normal days between Negros Oriental and Cebu, might be slowed down or temporarily suspended with the current passenger travel ban imposed by Samboan town in Cebu province.
Samboan Mayor Emerito Calderon issued Executive Order 41 extending the travel ban for another two weeks, or from September 24 to October 7.
Dante Uymatiao, manager of Maayo Shipping Inc., which operates the barges that ply the route between the port in Bato, Samboan, and the port in Tampi, Amlan in Negros Oriental, said in an interview yesterday he is now on “survival mode” with the declaration of the extended travel ban.
Uymatiao said he has begun cost-cutting measures.
With 20 employees already laid off, more might lose their jobs if this continues, he added.
Passenger travel, especially of locally stranded individuals (LSIs), to and from Negros Oriental via Samboan, Cebu is still not allowed after the Samboan municipal government extended the ban to stem the transmission of Covid-19.
Only cargoes and authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) are allowed to take the barge trips.
Uymatiao said that while the barge trips, which number six to eight a day, ferry cargoes and other essential goods, a large chunk of their income comes from passenger travel.
Samboan first imposed the passenger travel ban on August 12 as a containment measure after logging several Covid-19 cases. Since then, it has extended the ban every two weeks.
One reason for the temporary suspension of passenger travel is the issue of local governments in Negros Oriental that allegedly do not want to receive their LSIs traveling via the Bato port.
This had caused concern for Samboan, which had to contend with the stranded individuals bound for Negros Oriental at the Bato port.
LSIs traveling to Negros Oriental have to take the slow boat, Cokaliong, departing Cebu City to the port in Dumaguete City, until Samboan lifts its ban.*