Sunday Essays: Congested patience

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

UYANGUREN. It is one of the most crowded places in Davao City because of its abundant supply of item bargains that are attractive to the eyes of the typical Filipino miser.

Cheap finds are plentiful all around the area. Ukay-ukay, second hand, barato: name them and you can find it all there.

With this character, Uyanguren has attracted a lot of consumers…and sidewalk vendors.

A typical afternoon in along Ramon Magsaysay Avenue is a chaos. Congested sidewalks are delaying the flow of crowd moving from one place to another.

“Taga-hapon man jod ko diri para mamalit. Pero usahay magsayo na lang ko sa buntag kay hastang guota sa agi-anan (I always shop during the afternoon. But there are times that I shop in the morning because of the congested pathway in the afternoon),” Marina Sandoval, a sari-sari store owner from Agdao, said.

Lolita Reyes, a housewife from Sasa, said that the congestion of the sidewalk in Uyanguren cost her two cellphones in the past five months.

Several problems have arisen from the congested sidewalks along Uyanguren, not just in the case of the pedestrians, but also of the sidewalk vendors.

“Usahay, sa kahuot, di na mi kabantay nga makawatan na pod mi (Because of the congestion in the area, sometimes, we can’t realize that we have been stolen already),” Julietta, a vendor of accessories, said.

Ining, a vendor of Ready-To-Wear (RTW) items, said that there are times that the heavy influx of the crowd runs through her small stall.

Manong Rudy, a jeepney driver, said the he always expects heavy traffic in the area especially in the afternoon because of the increased number of crowd.

Because of this recurring problem along the sidewalks in the city, the local government has implemented the one-third, two-third policy to decongest sidewalks.

Retired Colonel Yusop Jimlani, head of City Demolition, said that this policy means that the sidewalk is being divided into three parts and is being allocated to vendors and pedestrians.

“Sa tulo ka bahin ana, usa ka bahin ang para sa sidewalk vendors, ang duha ka bahin para sa mga pedestrian (One of the three parts is for the sidewalk vendors, and the other two is for the pedestrian),” Jimlani said.

Last August, Jimlani and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte were able to have a conference with over 3,500 sidewalk vendors at Almendras Gym to explain the said policy.

“Pagdating naming sa meeting, pinaki-usapan namin ang mga vendors (during the meeting we asked them to cooperate),” Jimlani said.

He added that they have been conducting clean-up operations since August to decongest major sidewalks in the city.

Jimlani said that despite of their efforts of cleaning up the congested sidewalks, there are still “persistent” sidewalk vendors that keep on violating the policy.

He added that these vendors have developed styles of occupying the two-third of the sidewalk, and when the demolition team arrives in the area, they just fold their stalls.

One sidewalk vendor from Uyanguren said that he knows that he is violating the policy but he is doing this for his family.

“Para man pod ni sa akong pamilya. Panginabuhi jud namo (This is for my family. This is our livelihood),” he said.

Jimlani discussed the reason of sudden increase of sidewalk vendors in the past years and months.

He said that the increase of sidewalk vendors can be traced all the way back when the “All-Out War” by former President Joseph Estrada displaced many natives.

Jimlani added that current all-out demolition of sidewalk stalls in Metro Manila by Joseph Estrada has forced a lot of sidewalk vendors from Manila to Davao City.

He said that as long as there are still persistent sidewalks vendors in the city, he and his team will never stop from doing their job.

However, he said that because of the spirit of Christmas last December, he was convinced to delay clean-up operations in the city.

“Pero mubalik na pod mi sa January (But we will be back by January),” he warned.

On the other hand, Jimlani was happy that the proposal of having permanent night and weekend markets was approved.

He said that by the approval of this new policy, this could help in city’s problem of persistent vendors continuously congesting sidewalks in the city.

Jimlani is in high hopes that this policy would really cure the problems of decongested sidewalks that delays a lot of appointments and irritates the normal pedestrian. (Khrist Ian Abog Maestre)

*****

Sunday Essays are articles submitted by students of Ateneo de Davao for their journalism class.

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