Passengers hail resumption of boat trips

TRAVELERS board a pump boat bound for Guimaras at Parola Wharf in Iloilo City. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

PASSENGERS were elated by the resumption of motor banca trips between Iloilo and Guimaras on Aug 13, 2019.

Passengers reached by Daily Guardian said they cannot stand the long hours of queuing at the roll on-roll off (RORO) wharves in Guimaras and Iloilo City to catch fast craft and RORO ships that temporarily replaced the pump boats.

Gapasalamat kita kay nagbalik na ang pagbyahe sang banca kay maibsan na ang amon pangabudlay,” Richard Galvez, 42, a native San Lorenzo, Guimaras who works in Iloilo City shared in an interview on Tuesday.

Galez said it was his first time to travel to Iloilo after the weeklong suspension.

For 40-year-old Edlin Sambon, a crew of a pump boat plying the Buenavista-Iloilo route, the resumption of their operations means income after a week of being stranded at Parola Wharf.


“We have been grounded at the wharf since last week and now that the operations are back, we are really thankful,” Sambon said in Hiligaynon.


The same is true for ambulant vendor, Ricarido Paz, 34, from Molo, Iloilo City who is fully dependent on his income from selling peanuts to motor boat passengers.


Sang nagsuspend ang trip isa gid ka semana kami wala income. Gapasalamat gid kami kay nabalik na ang byahe teh makaincome naman kami,” he said.


The Coast Guard suspended pump boat trips in the aftermath of the Iloilo Strait mishap last Aug 3, 2019, which involved the capsizing of three motor boats and claimed 31 lives.


Thousands of passengers experienced the horror of waiting for several hours in an almost one-kilometer line in the hopes of being accommodated by two RORO vessels and fast-craft vessels which were the only modes of transportation at that time.


And while the authorities are still looking into the possible banning of the motor boats, some passengers still believe that motor boats are still the most convenient and the fastest way to travel from Iloilo-Guimaras and vice versa.


“Pump boats are absolutely convenient, many of them running simultaneously running back and forth. They are the best answer to solve the transportation problem without undue burden. Cost is good, frequency is good, they’re fast and convenient however there needs to be smart engineers who can understand it’s economic impact,” according to John, a businessman from Buenavista, Guimaras who travels to Iloilo City three to four times a week.

Meanwhile, vessels of the FF Cruz Shipping will continue to ferry passengers alongside the Montenegro lines, and the Ocean Jet fast craft.

More or less 10,000 passengers are traveling from Guimaras to Iloilo City daily, according to Maritime Industry Authority Senior Shipping Specialist Joseph Rhoel Pador.

The same set of passengers goes back to Guimaras daily, leaving about 20,000 commuters plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route every day.

Data from the Guimaras Provincial Tourism Office showed that there are 104 pump boats in Guimaras, composed of three motor banca cooperatives from Buenavista: Buenavista Development Cooperative (BDC), Buenavista Motorbanca Owners and Sailors Association (BAMOSA), and Association of Buenavista Ferry Service Providers Incorporated (ABFSPI), and one motor banca cooperative from Jordan, the Jordan Motor Banca Cooperative (JMBC).