DESPITE the gradual normalization of the operation of the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (DCOTT), the management is still not allowing peddlers inside the bus terminal due to concerns about the enforcement of health protocols against Covid-19.

DCOTT head Aisa Usop said in a radio interview that more than 300 peddlers from three vendor associations have not been allowed to sell their goods inside the terminal since it reopened in June 2020.

Usop said health protocols might not be observed within the terminal as peddlers would be roaming around, which might possibly cause convergence in the terminal considering its short space.

"Wala sila nato gipabalik. Pag-[open] nato, giingnan nato ilang opisyales... nga for us to implement the social distancing, dili pa gyud nato mapasulod atong peddlers (We have not yet allowed them inside the terminal. When we [DCOTT] reopened, we told the heads of association that we won’t allow peddlers inside for the meantime for us to implement the social distancing)," she said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

The DCOTT official admitted they had a hard time explaining to them the situation.

She added that their management is strict in implementing the distancing inside the terminal since the city is still in a state of pandemic.

Usop also said that the terminal is short of security personnel who will monitor the observance of health protocols inside. She added that they are tasked to monitor the entry and exit of buses.

"So karon, muingon [sila] 'Ngano dili man bantayan sa atong mga gwardya?' (So now, they would tell us ‘Why can’t the terminal guards monitor them?’) My God! 300 plus nga peddlers versus nine ka gwardya nga nagabantay nato every shifting diria sa atong DCOTT terminal. Ang duha pa gyud anang nine, dayoff na, so pito lang na sila (there are more than 300 peddlers versus our nine guards that work every shift here inside the DCOTT terminal. Out of the nine, two are on day off, so only seven are on duty)," the official said.

She also revealed that her office had previously received complaints from drivers and conductors that some peddlers insisted on boarding the buses despite being prohibited by the management due to security concerns.

She added that there have been cases of pickpockets involving peddlers stealing mobile phones and wallets of the passengers that were reported to her office in the past.

"Naa na gyud koy gipang-suspend na peddlers. Atong gi-coordinate sa ilahang mga opisyales (We had suspended some peddlers. We coordinated with the association officials)," Usop said, adding that they have not received a single report of passengers pickpocketed.

The DCOTT head also said that vendors renting stalls inside the terminal also opposed the peddler’s request as they fear that they might run out of business considering they have not yet recovered from the losses they endured since the resumption of the terminal’s operation.

Usop said there are around 70 to 80 stall owners within the terminal that are affected by the current restriction of the pandemic as DCOTT had resumed its 24-hour operation on November 14, 2021, brought about the city being placed under Alert Level 2, which also resulted in the suspension of the curfew within the city.

Usop said the terminal would remain operational the whole day despite the city being under Alert Level 3.