SUFFER FOR NOW: Long-term dev’t, relocation for hawkers in the pipeline

The Cacho property where sidewalk vendors in Iloilo City were relocated. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

FOUR days after the city government ordered vendors in the metro to vacate the sidewalks, the once busy and crowded sidewalks in the City Proper district instantly became idle and dull.

While the order benefitted the pedestrians, who are now walking more freely and conveniently in the downtown area, the displaced sidewalk vendors had been suffering in their new location.

Mayor Jerry Treñas gave the vendors a 12-day deadline to vacate the city sidewalks as part of road clearing operations ordered by the national government.

The vendors were transferred to the property of Panay Electric Company (PECO) on JM Basa Street.

However, the 2,700-square-meter property can only accommodate around 254 vendors who resorted to drawing of lots to determine their slots.

An open space that has no roofing, lighting, drainage, and comfort rooms, the property is far from a convenient area for sidewalk vendors who have to brave either the heat or rain and puddles and mud for four days now.

Fifty-year-old shoe repairer Leonardo Tiamson of Bo. Obrero in Lapuz district, told Daily Guardian that he and his family had been suffering since he transferred to the new location.

Kon mag-ulan gabaha di kay wala atop, budlay gid ya. Diri kami gintipon, payongpayong  lang kami, wala man kami mahimoAko ya gani, wala gid ko income halin pagsaylo namon di,” he lamented.

Another sidewalk vendor, Lucy Rocio, 68 from Baluarte in Molo district said that she has been struggling in the new relocation site especially with torrential rains alongside other sidewalk vendors.

Subong gaulan, gadanaw, mabudlayGutom na gid ya ang sidewalk vendor, pigado na gid subong, bisan pagkaon lang, diri wala na gid patay na gid,” she said.

But, the city government assured that the Treñas administration is preparing a long-term development plan for the vendors.

This was confirmed by Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) head Jeck Conlu in an interview on Tuesday.

According to Conlu, they are laying down the plans with partners and other stakeholders for the possible development of the said area mostly under the Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Ang area nga ni idevelop under PPP, kay technically ang LGU indi ka develop sang amo ni nga area kay private ni siya nga lot. Damo ang mga private individuals kag entity nga gusto magbulig diri. Ginaplastar lang naton, kag amat-amat lang ini magsulod,” he said.

He added that one of the plans is to develop the location into a souvenir area and incorporate it in the itineraries of tourism activities in the city.

Tanan nga makadto kag malagaw ukon mabisita sa City Hall diri sila dal-on, like sa iban nga city nga may isa ka area for souvenir shops so amo na diri ubrahon,” he said.

For the longest time, Conlu said souvenir shops in the city were only available to tourists during Dinagyang. He revealed that several government agencies will help train the sidewalk vendors on souvenir-making and other livelihood programs.

Wala sang area nga balaklan sang souvenir maskin mga t-shirts lang, maskin souvenirs wala gid may mabaklan, wala ka makita so masulod ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Tourism, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA),” he said.

Upon the instruction of the mayor, Conlu said that a job fair will also be conducted by the Public Employment and Services Office (PESO) targeted at the families of the sidewalk vendors.

The city government is also working with the General Services Office (GSO) for the installation of portalets at the relocation site.

Conlu revealed that they are also looking for other areas for the other affected sidewalk vendors.

In the meantime, Conlu appealed for the understanding of the affected vendors.

Plano ni mayor tam-an ka damo amo lang na garing masakripisyo kita gamay. Ang akon ginahingyo sa vendors, indi automatic pagsaylo langit dayon, aton ginapangayo sa ila sakripisyo anay kita,” he said.

He also assured the vendors that the city government will work together until the vendors are finally put into a much more convenient area.

Aton pasalig side by side ang city government upod ang vendors indi naton pagpabay-an that is why halin sang first day ang city government ari gid diri, wala gid nabaya sila, asta mabutang sila sa mayo nga kahimtangan, ang city government indi gid magbaya sa ila,” he said.