Barge trips of the Maayo Shipping, Inc., ferrying essential goods and passengers on normal days between Negros Oriental and Cebu, stand at risk of slowing down or being 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 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 Thursday that 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 Samboan’s municipal government extended the ban to stem the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
With this development, only cargoes and people requiring essential travel, such as 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, are ferrying cargoes and other essential goods, a large chunk of their income comes from passenger travel.
“I am afraid there might come a time when I will have to stop operating, and that means a slowdown in the delivery of essential goods to Negros Oriental during this pandemic,” he said in the dialect.
Maayo Shipping has already put one of its barges up for sale, Uymatiao added.
Barge runs may also have to be reduced, he said, expressing hope that concerned agencies would come up with a win-win solution for all, as this not only hurts his business but the people as well.
Samboan’s local government 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 of the reasons for the temporary suspension of passenger travel is the issue of local governments in Negros Oriental allegedly not wanting to receive their locally stranded individuals (LSIs) traveling via the Bato port.
This has 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 no option but to take the slow boat, Cokaliong, departing Cebu City to the port in this capital until Samboan lifts its ban.
Meanwhile, APORs with valid reasons have to obtain permission from the Samboan mayor before their scheduled date of travel via email or fax. No request calls are entertained unless they have complied with the necessary documents and health protocols. (PNA)