TWO vendors’ associations oppose a provision of the joint venture agreement (JVA) between the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp. to modernize the Carbon Public Market, the largest public market not only in the whole of Cebu but also in Central Visayas.

During a press conference on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, Erwin Goc-ong, chairman of the Cebu Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and Maria Pino, president of the Cebu City United Vendors Association Inc., said Megawide shouldn’t be allowed to collect market fees and charges.

“Lahi na og dagway ang usa ka pampublikong merkado kon ang mukolekta mao ang pribadong kompaniya (It just isn’t right having a private company collect fees at a public market),” Goc-ong said.

If this will be the case, then all revenues will go to the company and the City and its constituents will not be able to benefit, he said.

Under the JVA, the company, which will shoulder the total project cost of P5.5 billion, will generate revenue from rentals, assuring “minimum guaranteed payment” to the City, along with other incomes from taxes and fees.

City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. clarified that all fees are set by the City and not Megawide.

“I just want to emphasize that Mayor Edgardo Labella had made sure that Megawide wouldn’t have the power to fix fees,” Casas said in Cebuano.

The two groups are also asking the City and Megawide not to raise fees within the first three years of implementation of phase 1 of the project. If ever there will be an increase, it should go through consultation with stakeholders, they said.

On Friday, Feb. 5, Manuel Louie Ferrer, Megawide chief corporate affairs and branding officer, said market fees will not go up within the first two years. If there’s a need to raise fees, then it will only be P3 or P4 and it will need the approval of the City Council.

Meanwhile, Casas said the City is studying the two groups’ request for a seat in the oversight committee and that the City should not issue a notice of construction start date without a memorandum of agreement that will include vendor representatives.

The City and Megawide has assured that no vendors will be displaced from the start of construction to the operation of the new market building.

There are 42 organizations of ambulant vendors and five cooperatives at the Carbon Public Market.

Ermita Barangay Captain Mark Miral has asked the City to provide assistance to around 1,000 residents of Sitio Bato who may be affected by the project.

Ferrer of Megawide said that based on their agreement, the City will be responsible for the residents nearby. He also said Sitio Bato will not be affected during the construction of phase 1.

The groundbreaking for the project is scheduled in March. (JJL)