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Saturday, December 2, 2023

‘Move stalls, goods or we will burn them’

Stalls and merchandise of illegal vendors in the area of Balintawak in Quezon City will be burned if they will continue defying the government’s anti-road obstruction policy.

This was the warning to the vendors on Wednesday of Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim, who said they were one of the reasons why Balintawak was on the list of most critical areas along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue with the worst traffic situation.

“These things, if they come back, will be burned,” said Lim, telling his men and a barangay official present during a surprise inspection in the area Wednesday morning.

During the inspection, Lim and other MMDA officials observed the presence of several vendors and illegal terminals of public utility jeepneys, motorized pedicabs and tricycles in the area.

Some motorists said the volume of vehicles on the road is not the reason why motorists and commuters continue experiencing monstrous traffic in Metro Manila, particularly along Edsa, but the failure of the government to clear road obstructions.

Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim

Former Public Works secretary Rogelio Singson made the same observation. He said local government units and the police are partly to blame for the traffic mess in the metropolis for not implementing a policy authorizing them to clear public places in Metro Manila of illegal structures and obstructions.

Singson said the presence of vendors and other obstructions of business establishments on sidewalks along major thoroughfares caused road congestion.

In 2002, the government approved a resolution authorizing the MMDA, the Philippine National Police and the LGUs to clear the sidewalks, streets, avenues, alleys, bridges, parks and other public places of all illegal structures and obstructions to effect the smooth flow of traffic in Metro Manila.

The resolution was signed by then-MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando and members of the Metro Manila Council, the agency’s policymaking body.

The Council made the resolution after observing that public places in Metro Manila “are not properly utilized by the road users due to malpractices of some unscrupulous individuals, who want only to utilize these areas for displaying and vending their goods, as well as utilizing the same in erecting some structures for commercial and advertising purposes.”

The resolution stated that “such use of sidewalk applies even to cases involving the use or lease of public places under permits or licenses issued by competent authority.” 

It’s based on the MMDA’s theory “that such holders could not take advantage of their unlawful permits and licenses and claim that the land in question is a part of a public street or a public place devoted to public use, hence beyond the commerce of man.”

MMDA officials, however, keep telling people that the worsening traffic along EDSA is mainly caused by the increasing number of vehicles.

They said the number of vehicles in Metro Manila is “now way over existing roads’ carrying capacity.”

The total road network in the country is 199,950 kilometers, 5,035 kilometers of which is in Metro Manila, while EDSA is only 23 kilometers long, the MMDA stated.

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