ERNESTO T. SOLIDUM
Is Kalibo’s Wet Market Modern?
Goods and services must be assured and delivered at the right time and place for the convenience of customers. This is mantra of marketing specialists. The municipality of Kalibo has two market facilities: the Shopping Center and Wet Market.
Shopping Center deals with dry goods mostly RTW’s, bags, shoes, school uniforms, textiles among others while the latter is hub of prime commodities like rice, meat, fish, vegetables, processed foods and other foods in both cases, majority of shoppers belong to middle and low income groups. Hence, expenditure is budgeted for the purpose.
Around these facilities are market stalls rented to individuals who pay monthly rent to LGU Kalibo on per square meter floor space basis at P4.50 outside the stall. Inside the stall – P3.50 and P2.00 for Central portion of Wet Market. Fixed income is bolstered by daily tariff upon entrance of agricultural, fishery products or finished goods from neighboring towns and provinces.
Wet Market Administrator Abel Policarpio said, the total public stalls is 76 units, 95 premium stalls, 40 fruit stalls, 132 Central portion. There are 54 rented stalls at the 2nd floor. The 8,000 sq. m. facility faces Toting Reyes St. on the West, Roxas Avenue Extension North and curvilinear service road running South and East.
The centerpiece of activity where buyers congregate is obviously the fish and meat sections. The perimeter is complemented by a wide array of culinary products like condiments, vegetables, canned goods, dried fish and noodles.
Engr. Jessie Fegarido, head, municipal economic enterprise and development office (MEEDO) revealed that P4.2 million is still collectible from stall owners at Shopping Center while P2.0 million is from Wet Market as of May 31. 2013. As per agreement between MEEDO and stall owners, December 31, 2013 is stipulated deadline for all accounts to be liquidated. Financial problem experienced in the past 10 years by businessmen is the stiff competition from foreigners particularly Taiwanese who sell cheaper goods compared to the locals. The presence of high end business establishments like malls and superstores attracted many customers. A more credible one however could be people’s low purchasing power as a result of low income.
It is very unfortunate that the service road of the Wet Market is now occupied by ambulant vendors who tend to usurp the road right of way of pedestrians and baggage handlers. The on-going construction is a steel and GI roofing infra budgeted at P3 million. What a waste of public funds which amount could have gone for improvement of drainage facility from market site to Andagao creek.
In case of emergencies like fire outbreak, our fire trucks and firemen could not effectively extinguish the fire. For this reason all traffic obstruction in the service road must be removed the soonest time possible.
While the tendency to expand the market area seems plausible, one needs to look at Central portion of the wet market where 132 stallholders occupy one-third of the entire service area underutilized and underproductive. The permanent stalls are poorly lighted and ventilated, unhealthy and unsafe. Shoppers usually shun above places preferring to buy from sellers whose items on display are neat, orderly at very reasonable price.
Policarpio confided he submitted three years ago a proposal to convert the Central portion into a covered court where stall owners can get individual open cubicles for the delivery of modern amenities in the market place like uniformly painted stalls, choice of quality goods and services and a pleasant convivial atmosphere. The budget estimate is P15 million which can accommodate all the ambulant vendors in the spacious Central portion leaving the service road free of traffic obstructions.
The selling of consumer goods beyond that authorized by law is illegal and violators must face the consequences, said Fegarido. MEEDO has fielded three Ordinance Officers to strictly implement Municipal Ordinances. The prime targets are stall owners selling native handicrafts, fruits and vegetables and RTW’s using habitually the sidewalks. They will also actively campaign against illegal vendors and dubious weighing scales.
On May 29, 2013, a group of fish vendors aired their grievances against illegitimate fish vendors. According to them, they paid P5,500 as goodwill money for their display tables. However, bogus vendors brazenly occupy the front area thus reducing customers access to buy from them. Some 80 legitimate fish vendors lease half of the imposing gable type building while the other half is taken by meat vendors.
MEEDO by fiat should not only improve its revenue but also address the needs of its clienteles i.e. stall owners and consumers. Traffic congestion and pollution generated in the area are inconsequential. The primary reason is the blatant neglect of Traffic Law Enforcers. If Toting Reyes St. and Roxas Avenue Extension that serve as entry points to the Wet Market is rid of all parked service vehicles, then the problem is solved.
Moreover, Aklan Catholic College High School entrance gate must be relocated to either Toting Reyes St. (Queens’ Inn) or the New Buswang road. It appears that its sizeable student population unduly creates a bottleneck during rush hours impeding orderly traffic flow. The scheme must prevent accidents and avoid exposure to toxic fumes.
Kalibo’s public market is antiquated, undermined by modern standards. Health and sanitation are paramount yet it defies common sense. Do we know how to address them? LGU Kalibo must do away with goods sold on side streets that are filthy and dusty.
The inability of stall owners to comply with monthly dues deserves serious study and or action. High operating cost and dwindling profit must be taken into consideration when dealing with fixed rentals.
Decongestion of Wet Market must be considered by opening auxiliary market at Oyo Torong Transport Terminal and Estancia. At best, LGU Kalibo must develop marketing infra capability to cope with modern standards. It would be unthinkable if the Provincial capital town is eclipsed by other progressive towns like Ibajay, Malay or Banga. The stake is pretty high to ignore. /MP