NONE of the estimated 6,000 vendors will be displaced in the modernization of the Carbon Public Market, and most of the vendors are now even enjoying the use of bigger stalls at the Interim Market than they had at their old location at Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks, at the same rental rate per square meter, officials of the company undertaking the modernization with the Cebu City Government said Saturday, July 30, 2022.

They made the assurance a day before the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp. (MCC) sign a supplemental memorandum of agreement (MOA) to their joint venture agreement on the modernization Sunday that would, among others, raise the private company’s investment and annual guaranteed payments (AGP) to the City.

The company will turn over its first P50 million AGP to Mayor Michael Rama after the MOA signing.

Cebu2World Development Inc. (C2W) president Manuel Louie Ferrer said there were about 2,500 regular stall vendors and about 3,000 ambulant vendors in Carbon.

“So all in all, we’re looking at 6,000 vendors,” said Lydwena Eco, C2W deputy general manager, in a press briefing at Holiday Inn in Cebu City Saturday.

All these vendors would be accommodated at the new L-shaped three-story structure to rise as the new main public market because this new structure will have space for 6,500 vendors.

C2W, a wholly owned subsidiary of MCC, is undertaking Carbon market’s redevelopment under a joint venture agreement with the Cebu City Government. The period of concession is 50 years.

The new main public market will occupy a portion of what was Freedom Park and Warwick, Unit 1 and Unit 2. It is mixed use and will have basement parking, said Eco.

More than enough stalls

Eco said according to the list of the Cebu City Market Operations Division (MOD), there were 744 registered as regular stall vendors combined at Freedom Park and Warwick Barracks, two of the five markets in the Carbon market complex.

But there were 767 stalls inside the Interim Market at Unit 2 of Carbon Public Market, which means there are even more stalls than there are vendors for relocation.

Some 450 of the market vendors who had been cleared from Freedom Park and Warwick had already moved to the Interim Market and begun selling, while other vendors had already moved some of their things to their stalls but had not started operating yet, Eco said

The Interim Market is a three-level building with the first two levels occupied by the market vendors and the third floor used as offices by C2W and the City’s MOD.

The second level of the Interim Market is where the carenderia (eatery) stalls have been relocated, and they have their own water connection, draining, plumbing and electricity. In the middle of that second floor is a food court where people can dine.

Vendors’ fears

Last July 19, as the clearing of the vendors in their old areas got underway, Cebu Market Vendors Multipurpose Cooperative president Erwin Goc-ong had expressed fears that their profits would shrink as they moved to the interim market as he said the space for a single stall there would now be only four square meters (sqm), while the space for their stalls in their original locations could reach up to 10 sqm.

Goc-ong also said that not all of the affected vendors in the old market would have a stall in the interim market, and that privatization would lead to an increase in their stall rental.

On Saturday, however, Ferrer said the stalls at the interim market were uniform at five square meters.

“Before (in their old locations), some had stalls that were 3-6 square meters. We asked them and the consensus was five meters. Majority had four square meters before,” Ferrer said.

Eco also said the rent at the interim market was the same as what the vendors used to pay at Freedom Park and Warwick, which is “P8.50 per square meter per day based on the Market Code,” or just P42.50 per day for the five-square-meter stall, the same rate since 2017.

In addition to that, the vendors pay for utilities based on their actual consumption, plus a certain percentage for maintenance. She also debunked allegations that the interim market had no electricity.

As for Goc-ong’s allegation that the stalls had no doors behind which they could secure their goods, Ferrer said that is supposed to be the vendors’ expense already, but to help those who can’t afford it, C2W had offered to share 50 percent of the cost of the roll-up door.

Eco said Goc-ong himself had gone to their office Friday already to say he was interested in the installation of such a door.

The officials expressed frustration at repeated allegations that there would not be enough stalls for the vendors who would be displaced by the Carbon redevelopment.

“Give us the name of the vendor that is displaced, and we’ll check the list. And if she’s in the list, we’ll give her a stall,” Eco said.

Ferrer said the leaders of the various market associations in Carbon had verified C2W’s list of vendors.

“We have a list of all their members with their (market association leaders’) signature,” Ferrer said.

Eco said there were five markets in the Carbon Market complex: Freedom Park, Warwick, Unit 1 (the wet market), Unit 2 and Unit 3.

But there were also about 146 vendors in the so-called Module 1 and Module 2 combined, which are extensions of the current Carbon’s Unit 1 and Unit 2 buildings.

To accommodate them, C2W built an extension of the interim market building, and 77 of the 146 vendors now operate in that extension.

Module 2 had four rows of vendors, of which three had been moved inside the interim market so far.

The regular stall holders and ambulant vendors at Units 1 and 3 have not been touched because construction work is not yet going to be done there.

For the ambulant vendors, 283 had moved to the Carbon Bagsakan last September, while 81 had been “transferred to the (Sitio) Katsilaan side last week,” Eco said.

That makes a total of 364 ambulant vendors due for relocation who had been relocated.

Eco said a total of 683 stalls had been made available for ambulant vendors so far, which means there are still many more unused stalls.

For the ambulant vendors, the stalls are two to three square meters in size.

Privatization

On the vendors’ comments that they were not against modernization but only against privatization, Eco said the vendors had nothing to fear as the Carbon redevelopment was “not really a privatization.”

“It’s a joint partnership with the local government unit,” said Eco, who emphasized that unlike purely private operations that can dictate the rent and lessees, C2W cannot do either.

“We don’t have that privilege. The granting of a lease of a stall is by the City bestowed upon the Market Authority to the Market Operations Division. We don’t have the right to increase, adjust or waive any of the fees that are all enshrined in the Market Code passed by the City Council. The capex (capital expenditure) is ours, but the revenue side is not totally ours,” Eco said.

Goc-ong had said that privatization would lead to an increase in their stall rental.

However, Eco said, there will be other developments in the Carbon Market complex where Megawide could recoup its investment.

“Towards the Mactan Channel will be the commercial development where Megawide will recoup its investment,” she said.

“Airport check-in will be in this area because we also operate the airport. And we plan to put a ferry terminal here, but it’s not yet final,” she said. Ferries could then transport people from Carbon to Mactan.

Happy vendors

The C2W officials said the vendors were happy with their relocation at the interim market.

Jynx King Chanjueco, C2W marketing lead, said 90 percent of the flower vendors who had moved to the interim market were happy as their area was no longer muddy and they now had “equal visibility” with other stall holders, unlike at the Freedom Park where the vendors along the road and close to the frontage had better chances of getting customers than those in the interior portions.

Where before, customers would just have the flowers delivered to their homes as they did not want to wade through the mud at Freedom Park, now the customers would go to the market to look at the flowers themselves, he said.

He added that the vendors were also happy to be closer to a water source, as this was needed for their flowers.

Eco said the interim market has 87 CCTV cameras for the security of both sellers and buyers.

“And outside the interim market, we have 2 PNP outposts on the viaduct side and Katsilaan area,” aside from the Police Precinct 5 which will be retained, she said.

As for the Carbon night market, where 60 stalls now operate from 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays to Sundays, enjoying foot traffic of 20,000 a night, Ferrer said there were happy vendors too.

“Some tenants are making P50,000 a night versus P3,000 before,” he said.

The rent at the night market is P600 per night for Carbon vendors. For those vendors not from Carbon market, the rent is P600 a night plus five percent of sales. The night market is on Quezon Blvd.

MOA signing

Speaking about the supplemental MOA to be signed Sunday, Eco said she would not describe it as a “cure” of the previous joint venture agreement (JVA), the term used by Mayor Rama.

“The JVA signed in January 2021 is legitimate. There’s nothing to be cured. It can stand on its own. It’s legal. It was agreed on by both parties,” said Eco.

On the request of the Cebu City Government, the MOA will just supplement the JVA, she said.

Among the highlights of the supplemental MOA are the increase in Megawide’s investment to P8 billion from P5.5 billion and the increase in its annual guaranteed payments to the City to P50 million immediately.

“Previously, it (the AGP) started at P5 million, going to P15 million, P18 million and on the fifth year, we hit P50 million,” Ferrer said.

But with the supplemental MOA, the AGP is now P50 million from Years 1 to 10. And on the 11th year, there’s an escalation of 10 percent and every five years thereafter, Eco said.

Ferrer said P50 million was just the minimum, as there were still taxes and other fees that Megawide would pay depending on the performance of its commercial area.

He said this is much bigger than the P20 million that Carbon Market contributed to the City Government in 2019.

Other salient points of the supplemental MOA are the restoration of Freedom Park to its status as a park, placing the relocation of Sitio Bato residents in the last phase of development with their relocation to be done only when there was already a relocation plan, putting in writing that no vendors will be displaced in the redevelopment, and Megawide’s commitment to put up five police outposts and to enhance the Precinct 5 police station.