TACLOBAN CITY, March 3 (PNA) –- Officials in Eastern Visayas eye road projects as the best poverty-reduction scheme in economically-depressed areas.

An Wary Party-list Representative Victoria Isabel Noel noted that living conditions of poor families in Samar province have been improving with the recent completion of multi-billion road projects in rural areas, connecting rural areas to trading centers.

“It is good that they are now being connected to the main highway,” Noel said.

Samar Island’s three provinces are among the most impoverished provinces in the country. Eastern Samar is the poorest with poverty incidence of 55.4 percent, followed with Northern Samar (43.5 percent) and Samar (43 percent).

Majority of these provinces depend on agriculture and fishing for livelihood.

Foremost of these projects is the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) that focused on connecting interior towns of Samar to the main highway.

Among the PAMANA beneficiaries are poor families in the rebel-infested towns of San Jose de Buan and Matuguinao in Samar; Maslog and Jipapad in Eastern Samar; and Silvino Lobos, Catubig, and Las Navas in Northern Samar.

“Aside from solving insurgency, the roads will also help in the economic activity like those of farmer who needs to bring their goods to the market and better education for residents,” Noel added.

But problem of better accessibility is not only prevalent in Samar Island, but in Leyte province as well although towns are interconnected with each other.

Aspiring Leyte 2nd district Rep. Henry Ong noticed that some villages in the district are hard to access wherein resident have to ride a boat passing through rivers.

The district is the biggest in the province with 14 towns covering 540 villages.

“We need to build more roads, connect villages to the town proper so we can bring development to the grassroots level. This will also help in the promotion of their tourism potentials,” said Ong.

In San Miguel, Leyte town motorcycle driver Edgar Geria said that some villages of the town are hard to access before because of the bad road condition.

Now that almost all roads in the town are concreted and villages are interconnected, their income went up and travel time has been reduced.

Mayor Cheeryl Enrica Esperas said better roads convinced motorists to pass through San Miguel town, resulting to improved economic activities.

She thanked Leyte first district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez for working hard to connect the town of Barugo to Babatngon town.

“Our place was a sleepy town before, but after roads are constructed, our economy became vibrant and we saw lots of improvement in the lives of people,” Esperas said. (PNA) ROEL T. AMAZONA