The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced Monday that it intends to start clearing Baclaran—particularly the service road in the area—of illegal vendors and other obstructions that hamper traffic.
According to Bong Nebrija, MMDA supervising operations officer, the government agency plans to start their clearing operations in the coming days. Nebrija added that the state of congestion in the area has reached critical levels, with motorists finding it near impossible to get through.
Right before the inauguration of the MMDA’s Crisis Monitoring and Management Center in the first week of April, President Duterte ordered the agency to implement four specific traffic countermeasures. Clearing Roxas Boulevard—and Baclaran along with it—was one of these directives.
Nebrija said that they conducted dialogues and consultations with local government officials and organizations in Baclaran. These dialogues sought long-term solutions to the heavy congestion in the area. Nebrija admits that they face a gargantuan task, considering that the area has been cleared many times before. Yet the vendors keep finding their way back.
“We already gave notice to the vendors encroaching on the sidewalk,” Nebrija said. “As early as Monday last week, we issued a public advisory and held consultations to inform them of our intention.”
Occupying too many lanes
MMDA research reveals that the illegal vendors are occupying as many as seven to nine lanes of the Baclaran service road. This leaves motorists with just one lane for thoroughfare in most cases. Nebrija emphasized that all stakeholders need to work together if they really want permanent order in Baclaran.
“Baclaran area is really congested. Aside from city buses, provincial buses, and private vehicles, multicabs and jeepneys also pass through it,” Nebrija said.
Many public buses that ply the Metro use Baclaran as a pitstop of sorts. The buses park in the area to offload its final passengers and load new ones before beginning a new trip. Other public utility vehicles (PUVs) such as taxis, jeepneys, and even pedicabs also pass through the area, along with private cars.
“We are not saying that (illegal vendors) should not sell goods since our economy needs them but vendors should know their place,” Nebrija said. He added that vendors can only occupy three lanes of the service road so they can continue their business operations. He admits that many vendors face displacement and relocation because of the clearing operations. However, they intend to help them find a new place to sell their wares.
An alternative location for vendors
MMDA is eyeing interim terminals for southwest provincial buses as alternative vendor locations. HK Sun Plaza along Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City is one of these locations. Meanwhile, the MMDA also plans to conduct clearing operations in Barangay Lipunan ng Crame in Quezon City.
Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said that the city plans to extend help to vendors displaced by the MMDA’s operations. The mayor also announced the city’s plans to establish another market site in a one-hectare government lot on Aseana complex for the vendors.
The local government of Parañaque is also setting aside an initial budget of P40 million for the construction of 500 stalls in the new market site. The project is expected to be completed before year’s end.
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