IN ANOTHER sign of a turn-around from the earlier policy of former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando, the agency said it will put up "night markets" for displaced sidewalk vendors on inner streets in Metro Manila where it will not obstruct traffic flow.

MMDA Chairman Oscar Inocentes said these street markets, to be patterned after the popular nighttime flea markets in Hong Kong and Singapore, is the agency's response to the sidewalk vendors' need for a proper place to earn a living.

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"Instead of constantly going after them, we will look for secondary streets or vacant lots where they will be allowed to operate. We want these markets to operate only at night because we do not want to cause traffic problems," the MMDA chief added.

Inocentes directed MMDA General Manager Robert Nacianceno to find suitable places for these planned night markets in coordination with the local government units in the metropolis.

The MMDA said the number one requirement for the proposed site is that it should be reasonably away from major thoroughfares and secondary roads so as not to hamper traffic flow but is accessible to pedestrians.

According to Inocentes, spaces will be rented out to vendors at special discounted rates.

"In these night markets, we will assure them that they will be protected against syndicates demanding protection money from them. On the other hand, we will solve our problems on sidewalk vendors. This is a win-win solution," he said.

Inocentes earlier ordered the issuance of eviction notices to sidewalk vendors and business establishments that have encroached the sidewalks and roadways during the holiday season.

The MMDA chairman made the move after the temporary moratorium on demolition the agency has implemented elapsed on December 31.

Inocentes said the agency will not use force to drive away the illegal vendors.

During Fernando's term, the agency figured in numerous clashes with illegal sidewalk vendors and informal settlers as part of the campaign to rid the metropolis of traffic obstruction and illegal structures.

Fernando also ordered his men to confiscate goods seized during these operations and have them destroyed or doused with gasoline to prevent further use. (AH/Sunnex)