By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
More than 500 passengers were stranded in Bacolod City’s Bredco and Banago ports yesterday after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) issued sea travel suspensions due to Tropical Depression “Kabayan.”
Based on information from PCG Bredco Substation commander, Chief Petty Officer Louie Campaner, 48 passengers were stranded at the Bredco Port.
At least 525 Manila-bound passengers were also stuck after their vessel was barred from leaving the port.
Negros Occidental was placed under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 late Sunday night, December 17.
The travel suspensions, lifted at 5:00 p.m. yesterday, have caused chaos for passengers who were supposed to travel early for the holidays.
The port management barred the entry of Iloilo-bound passengers and vehicles at the gate amid the inclement weather.
However, as of press time, they have not provided an explanation why they barred passengers from accessing the terminals.
The stranded passengers were picked up by the Bacolod Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), and transported to an evacuation center in Barangay Taculing, where they could be given food and proper rest.
The DRRMO will transport the stranded passengers back to Bredco Port as soon as the PCG allows the resumption of trips.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary’s 618th Squadron counted around 300 stranded passengers at the port, and provided them with food and water.
Commander Joe Luviz Mercurio, chief of the Coast Guard Station-Northern Negros Occidental, issued travel suspensions for Cebu-bound sea vessels from the ports in the cities of Cadiz, Sagay, Escalante, and San Carlos at 11:00 a.m. yesterday.
Ferry trip suspensions were also issued between E.B. Magalona town and Iloilo province’s Ajuy town, and Negros Occidental’s Pulupandan town to Guimaras’ Sibunag town.
Mercurio said a slight increase in the number of passengers was observed during the holiday season.
“To the passengers affected by the bad weather, they can seek shelter in the facility of the Philippine Ports Authority and the local government units also provide centers for them to stay in,” Mercurio said.
Classes at all levels have been suspended in Bacolod due to “Kabayan” yesterday.
However, the Christmas break in all public schools has already started yesterday, based on Department of Education Order 22.
Only private schools in the city still have classes this week.
“‘Kabayan’ will continue to bring heavy rains and inclement weather conditions. Thereby increasing the risks of flooding and rain-induced landslides over various areas of the city,” Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said./With reports from PNA / DGB, WDJ