Editorial: City’s Warwicks Barracks dilemma

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Monday, January 13, 2014


AFTER Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama initiated a top-level revamp in the City Hall bureaucracy, he announced his marching order to new city engineer Jose Marie Poblete, his former city administrator.

In his order is the development plans for Warwicks Barracks and Freedom Part at the Carbon Market.

In Warwicks Barracks, he plans to construct a combination of medium-rise building and pension houses while retaining commercial function of the area. The place is home to vendors and informal settlers.

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As for the Freedom Park, which is also being occupied by vendors and informal settlers, the mayor wants to make it a park again.

But days after Rama issued his marching order to Poblete, a fire destroyed at least one hundred structures in Warwicks Barracks, which is part of Barangay Ermita. A ten-year old boy died in the blaze.

But even as the Cebu City Government is extending help to the fire victims, many of them Carbon Market stall holders, it has been put in a dilemma. It now has to balance compassion with pragmatism.

Actually, the city already has an experience in grabbing what can be considered as an opportunity presented after a fire hits an area to at least put a semblance of order in a chaotic setting.

More often than not, firemen find it difficult to control a blaze that breaks out in a cramped community because of narrow roads. Thus, after a fire, the city pushes for re-blocking in the fire-hit areas that essentially means expanding narrow roads towards the interior.

As a result, some fire victims were not able to rebuild their damaged structures in the same spots where they previously stood. That’s like a double whammy for the affected residents, but it had to be done.

So what is the future of the fire victims in Warwicks Barracks?

While the mayor may not have prioritized the construction of new structures in the area, the aftermath of the fire may have changed that. There is now the opportunity for the mayor to incorporate his plans for the area with the vendors and informal settlers rebuilding effort.

But the city should do this conscious of the fact that they will no longer be dealing with ordinary occupants of the place but fire victims who do not want to displaced, and should not be displaced, by its move.

If the development plan is explained well, there’s no reason that the Warwicks Barracks occupants would oppose its implementation.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.

Opinion

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