IN MANDAUE, the City Government has intensified the clearing operation and has set its sights on interior roads.
Obviously, the move has made some people unhappy. No surprise there, really.
Many of our politicians had turned a blind eye on the illegal encroachment because they were afraid they would alienate the people they needed so they could stay in power. And so, over the years, vendors were allowed to proliferate.
At the back of the politicians’ minds, there was nothing wrong with that. After all, the vendors were only trying to make an honest living.
However, what they didn’t realize was that sidewalks or the sides of roads were not built so these could be occupied by people or structures. Or maybe they did, but they chose to ignore the fact because the vote was more important than the public good.
So I could just imagine their horror when earlier this year President Rodrigo Duterte challenged and later warned local government units nationwide to clear all public roads, and that included sidewalks, of obstruction or face administrative sanctions.
Mind you, Duterte succeeded in curbing sidewalk vending in Davao City so he knows it can be done. And hey, if Yorme could do it in Manila, there’s no excuse for other chief executives not to follow in his footsteps.
Anyway, it’s not a total ban because, if I remember correctly, vendors are allowed to sell on some sidewalks at certain hours of the day. In other words, they’re being regulated, which is what Mayor Edgardo Labella is trying to do in Cebu City.
What the President doesn’t like, and I’m just assuming this, are permanent structures that have cropped up in places meant for pedestrians, in the case of sidewalks, and vehicles, in the case of roadsides.
I’m not very familiar with the streets of Mandaue City so I don’t know if the problem is as pervasive as it used to be in the other cities and municipalities that make up Metro Cebu.
But here in Cebu City, particularly in the downtown area, the problem was more on vendors taking up most of the sidewalks, sometimes forcing pedestrians to file in a single line to get through or to get on the road so they could get on their way.
At any rate, most of them have been relocated so walking around the Colon area is actually surreal without the hustle and bustle of human traffic.
Of course, if you drive along Osmeña Blvd., vehicles parked on sidewalks continue to be the problem, which, up to now, has not been addressed.
I guess, when the Department of the Interior and Local Government makes another inspection this month, it should see for itself because I’m beginning to sound like a broken record.
Apparently, the violators believe the directive does not apply to them. Why else ignore it?
In Mandaue City, one barangay captain complained that “there were times when some residents whose structures encroached on the sidewalk used force when they confronted the barangay task force members” charged with the clearing operation.
So who are these people who are feeling entitled? They must know or be related to someone in the barangay or in the city to be so emboldened. I didn’t think your regular Juan would be so brave as to defy a direct order from the President.