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Northern Samar is looking for a new port to connect it to Luzon.

The province administration announced on Friday that a new seaport in Lavezares, Northern Samar, is being considered to improve the connection between Northern Samar and Sorsogon.

The proposed Lavezares port, according to provincial information officer Jhon Allen Berbon, is parallel to the opening of the Santa Magdalena port in Sorsogon.

Initially, the projected harbor will be located near the seaside Barobaybay hamlet, but Villa Flores and San Agustin villages are also viable options.

“After consulting with the local government and other officials, it was discovered that the proposed Lavezares port is the shortest path between the proposed Santa Magdalena port in Sorsogon and the proposed Lavezares port.”

These ports can be used to supplement existing maritime routes not only to expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid during disasters but also to promote local tourism and generate additional economic activity, according to Berbon in a phone interview.

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

The Philippine Ports Authority enlisted the help of GBI, an engineering consulting firm, to conduct a feasibility assessment for the project, which includes 10 ports across the country, including the Lavezares port.

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

Northern Samar has two entry points: privately-owned ports at Allen town and the government-owned ferry terminal in San Isidro town.

These ports are part of the country’s northeastern coastline nautical highway, which connects Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao, the country’s three major island groups.

Roll-on roll-off ferries have been crossing the San Bernardino Strait for decades, transporting passengers and vehicles between Northern Samar ports and Matnog port in Sorsogon.

The average journey time is one hour and 30 minutes over a distance of 28 kilometers.

Berbon, citing GBI data, reported that there are currently 14 marine vessels operating on the Matnog-Northern Samar route, up from just one in the 1980s.

Hundreds of vehicles and thousands of passengers have been stranded on both sides of the sea route due to damage to Matnog Port and strong sea conditions, both of which occur on a regular basis.

The administration was forced to explore alternate routes to relieve port congestion as a result of the issue.

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