The port of Matnog in Sorsogon Province.
The port of Matnog in Sorsogon Province.

TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 24 (PNA) –- The Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) is now currently looking into the port congestion problem in Matnog, Sorsogon, which has slackened reconstruction activities in typhoon-ravaged areas.

RDC Chairman and Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the region’s highest policy-making body has created a technical working group to study the port congestion concern.

The group is chaired by businessman Oliver Cam of the Eastern Visayas Chamber of Commerce and Industry with members from the Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, some representatives from Biliran and Samar local governments, National Economic Development Authority and some businessmen.

The group is expected to convene and report updates to the RDC on the ongoing study.

The RDC issued a resolution to study the port congestion problem after receiving reports from traders and logistic firms that there has been a significant backlog of seven to 14 days in the boarding of rolling cargoes at the said port since January 2015.

“Such delay in the queuing and loading of delivery truck carrying construction materials at the said port causes a subsequent delay in the implementation of government infrastructure projects in the region, especially Yolanda reconstruction projects,” Petilla said.

The delay, according to the RDC, has also “led to the escalation of prices of construction materials and basic goods and commodities in the region since the cost of delays is imputed to the retail prices of these commodities, in effect, passing the cost to the consuming public.”

The congestion, according to reports reaching the RDC, has triggered corruption. Some traffic enforcers and port personnel ask for bribes of PHP500 to PHP1500 in exchange for prioritization in loading to roll-on roll-off vessels.

Stranded vehicles along the national highway approaching the the port of Matnog in Sorsogon.

“These multiple repercussions, if taken collectively and if unabated, will compromise further the socio-economic development in the region, considering the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda and its already poor performing economy and pervasive poverty problem,” the RDC resolution stated.

Cam said the congestion has been hurting the regional economy since 70 percent of supplies in the region is being transported by land.

“We have to get Bicol officials on board to improve the situation because we, as the poorest region are the one suffering,” Cam added.

Officials from Bicol are expected to present plans on how to resolve the congestion during the RDC meeting in Ormoc City next month. (PNA)