THE noise in the Mandaue City public market used to come from a lively crowd of vendors offering their goods to their customers every day.
That was the noise that James Ursal, 27, was accustomed to in all the years that he has been selling in the market’s dry goods section.
But the daily activities in the market building changed after Oct. 15, 2013, when the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Cebu and Bohol.
Fewer customers came, the vendors’ sales dwindled, and fear for everyone’s safety, for weeks after the quake, became an everyday thing. Immediately after the earthquake, the public market was declared unfit for occupancy.
The market at the back of the Mandaue City Sports Complex was damaged. Debris hit and killed a female fish vendor when the quake struck.
The City Government then told the vendors to put their stalls outside the building to spare them from any danger.
Ursal believed that one of the reasons people seldom went to the market soon after the quake is their fear that the dilapidated market building would collapse any time if another earthquake happens.
“Usa sad kay wala nay musulod nga tricycle diri (The other reason we earned less was that very few tricycles bring passengers to the market),” Ursal said.
At present, the City Government is constructing a new market building in Barangay Centro, on the same lot where the old market used to stand.
City Engineer Andres Suson said BSP and Company Inc. won the contract to undertake the project with a bid of P385 million.
Construction started last January.
Before the construction started, Suson said they found out that the soil bearing capacity of the area was weak.
In order to have a more resilient structure, the contractor had to redesign the market building and strengthen the bearing capacity of the ground.
“The design was based to withstand high earthquake intensity. It can resist even an intensity 10 earthquake,” Suson said.
The City Government’s contract with BSP will last up to 14 months.
This means that market vendors can transfer to the new market building early next year.
Lawyer Mae Elaine Bathan, executive secretary to the mayor, said there is already a law that requires buildings being constructed to withstand a certain intensity of an earthquake, which is being complied with in the market project.
Ursal said they have not been informed yet when the construction of the new market building will be completed.
“OK lang madugay basta di pareha ana nga huyang basta safe lang gyud. Kana’ng mo-last gyud pila ka years kay usik-usik lang pagbayad ba (It is fine with me if the construction will take time as long as the structure is sturdy and will keep us safe),” Ursal said.
Just like Ursal, Jackson Lamberte, 31, a fish vendor, said he also fears that the market building would collapse any time, but they have to be there every day to earn.
Before the earthquake, fish vendors sold from 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
After the earthquake, Lamberte said they would stop selling at 7 a.m. and at 5 p.m. because the customers got fewer.
“Ibutang nato naa’y 10 mopalit. Karon, unom or lima na lang. Mga 50 percent ang nawala (I used to have 10 customers, but now it’s down to five or six. I lost 50 percent of my customers),” Lamberte said.