Operation ‘Hapsay Dalan’ earns cheers, jeers

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013


OPERATION "Hapsay Dalan," aimed to rid the main thoroughfares of Cagayan de Oro from ambulant vendors, has drawn different reactions from the public as immediate improvement on traffic and pedestrian flow has already been observed, especially in the city’s biggest public market.

Launched on Monday, Hapsay Dalan is one of the first orders of Mayor Oscar Moreno.

In Cogon Market, vendors cleared the road by removing their makeshift stalls which hindered the flow of traffic in the area.

According to Randy Matias, team leader of Hapsay Dalan, the immediate feedback from the public is positive. “Now we can see the road clearly,” Matias said.

Along Sotero Daumar Street, it used to be filled with umbrellas, makeshift stalls and flower vendors. It also served as a terminal for motorelas. Now, the street is cleared and the flow of pedestrians is orderly.

At first, many vendors resisted but were able to understand later on why it has to be done, Matias said.

“Many of the vendors removed their stalls themselves,” a Road and Traffic Administration (RTA) aid said.

Ricardo Casion, an RTA aide said, they now feel that they can implement the law and city ordinances because they have the backing of the city administration.

“Before, we were afraid to implement the law because the vendors will use the name of “Alas” and we don’t want to be on that path,” Casion said.

“Alas” is the pseudonym used by vendors to refer to former city mayor Vicente Emano who, for the duration of his term, sided with the vendors at the expense of traffic disorder.

On Tuesday afternoon, the worn out tarpaulins which covered the façade of Cogon Market were removed, revealing a clearer view of the building.

Many vendors who owned a space on the front part of the market said that by removing the tarpaulins, they are now well lit but “when rain comes, it will surely get us soaked.”

Many stall owners on the second floor said that they can now see the surroundings better after the tarpaulins were removed.

An RTA aide said that the tarpaulins were used as covers to conceal beds and illegal stalls which hampered the flow of pedestrians.

The RTA also removed boxes cluttered on sidewalk and used by illegal vendors to store their stocks.

Solution for vendors

But many vendors were also unhappy with the turn of event, saying “It’s only his (Moreno) second day, but this is not ‘hapsay’,” a vendor said.

The vendors were complaining about Hapsay Dalan, which caused them to lose their means of income. “Where will we get our food? Our children go to school too,” the vendors collectively asked.

Most of the sidewalk vendors are also paying loans to “5-6” loan sharks. “Where will we get our payment?” another asked.

Lovely, a fruit vendor along Vicente Roa Street said she will have to collect her produce and run fast when the RTA team arrives.

Another vendor shared that she stopped selling since Monday for fear of the operation. “I have a heart ailment, I don’t want to die running from the ‘karate team’,” she said.

‘Karate Team’ is a slang used by vendors to refer to the RTA team tasked to abolish the vendors.

Still, many vendors who have stalls on the second floor of the market are happy with the clearing.

“What they were doing was really illegal. They hampered the flow of traffic. They would charge the passing drivers whenever their umbrellas were tangled, whose fault is it anyway?” a vendor said.

A lot of customers no longer enter the market because vendors are already scattered on the sidewalk.

This prompted the vendors from the second floor of the market to transfer their merchandise on the street during afternoons. They had to compete with illegal vendors or else they lose their business.

Marlyn Nacalaban, a resident of Barangay 4 said that the city government should provide solutions for the vendors, and not just remove them from their place.

“For Moreno, it is ‘hapsay,’ but for the vendors, it meant losing food and money for their children,” Nacalaban said.

For the vendors, an immediate solution would be providing a small space for them along the streets. “Just one meter from the gutter is what we are asking, how difficult is that?” another vendor asked.

Nacalaban also proposed that for each stakeholder, “The government should construct a uniformed stall, within the one meter area that the vendors are asking.”

She also suggested that the City Government lists down the street vendors, provide them with uniformed stalls, and order them to maintain the cleanliness of the area and not to delegate the clean-up task to the Oro Aides.

Cong-Fu Market

Many of the vendors also aired their dislike for the ‘favored’ Taiwanese business occupying a huge area inside Cogon market.

The previous administration under Emano, granted Unitop Corporation leasing rights to a large area on the second floor and the entire third floor.

“This is called a ‘public market’ for a reason and now it is no longer publicly owned. Instead, it belongs to a single private company,” a vendor said.

Now, some vendors point to Cogon market at “Cong-fu” market apropos to the Taiwanese occupants within.

Vendors said they were deprived of a space which should have been theirs.

Prior to its opening, Emano used to tell the hopeful vendors that the Cogon Market will be “world class.”

Unfortunately, it failed to live up to its expectation.

A vendor said they are seeking a move to nullify the contract and declare it illegal as the lease was not opened for bidding.

The vendors said that if the space covered by Unitop be taken back, and that it will be used for them instead, they would not have to sell along the streets.

“As long as no vendors would be allowed on the street, we won’t mind selling on the third floor,” another vendor said.

“We don’t mind where we would be placed inside the market, so long as it is fair and just to all of us. Not one should get a better treatment more than the others,” another vendor said.

Hapsay must be equal

Francisco Pagayaman of group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in the city said Mayor Moreno should provide an option to the vendors who are displaced.

“Hapsay should be equal, it must not displace the poor who have come to the city because land grabbing and development aggression in the countryside continues,” Pagayaman said.

Pagayaman said short-term solutions must be met for the vendors to survive while the long-term solutions should look into the genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, so that the economy in the country will improve.

“The vendors are doing the guerrilla tactics. When the Hapsay Dalan team is away, they go back. They need to earn. The mayor must attend to this immediately because many would go hungry,” Pagayaman added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 03, 2013.

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