Northern Samar eyes new port to link Luzon

Published January 28, 2022, 4:30 PM

by Philippine News Agency

TACLOBAN CITY – A new seaport is being eyed in Lavezares, Northern Samar to enhance connectivity between Northern Samar and Sorsogon, the provincial government said on Friday, Jan. 28.

Provincial information officer Jhon Allen Berbon said the proposed Lavezares port is a counterpart to the opening of Santa Magdalena port in Sorsogon.

Initially, the proposed seaport will be built in the coastal Barobaybay village but other alternative sites are Villa Flores and San Agustin villages.

“Based on discussion with the local government and other officials, it was found that the proposed Lavezares port provides the shortest route with the proposed Santa Magdalena port in Sorsogon.

These ports can be used to complement existing sea routes not just to hasten the delivery of relief aids during disasters, but most importantly, to promote local tourism and create more economic activities,” Berbon said in a phone interview.

On January 19, Lavezares Mayor Edito Saludaga met with officials of Gammacon Builders Inc. (GBI), provincial engineer, provincial planning and development coordinator, and provincial tourism office to discuss the feasibility study and environmental impact of the project.

The services of GBI, an engineering consulting services company, were engaged by the Philippine Ports Authority to undertake the feasibility study for the project, which comprises 10 ports throughout the country, including the Lavezares port.

Lavezares is a 4th class town in Northern Samar with a population of 29,390 as of 2020.

The Matnog ferry terminal in Sorsogon is currently the only exit point from Luzon to Eastern Visayas while Northern Samar has two entry points – the privately-owned ports in Allen town and the government-owned ferry terminal in San Isidro town.

These ports form part of the northeastern seaboard nautical highway that links the country’s three major island groups – Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

For decades, roll-on roll-off ferries cross the San Bernardino Strait, carrying passengers and vehicles to and from Northern Samar ports and Matnog port in Sorsogon.

With a distance of 28 kilometers, the average travel time is one hour and 30 minutes.

Citing data from GBI, Berbon said from just one sea vessel using the Matnog-Northern Samar route in the 1980s, there are now 14 vessels operating in the same route.

Damage to Matnog Port and harsh sea conditions, both regularly occurring, have caused hundreds of vehicles and thousands of passengers to be stranded on both sides of the sea route.

The situation prompted the government to look for alternative routes to curb port congestions.