Manila vendors, pedicab boys: We are rats chased by Mabuhay Lane cats
For the past two days, sidewalk vendors and pedicab drivers in Quiapo, Manila, have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with policemen tasked to keep Mabuhay Lanes in the area clear of obstructions.
Traffic on Don Carlos Palanca Street (formerly Echague) remained heavy on Thursday even though members of the Manila Police District (MPD) had conducted clearing operations just hours earlier and the day before.
Motorists blamed the situation on sidewalk vendors, some of them Quinta market stall owners displaced by the public market’s ongoing renovation, and pedicab drivers waiting for passengers.
Angelita dela Cruz, who has been peddling candies and softdrinks in the area for two years, said policemen conducted a clearing operation on Palanca Street around 9 a.m. Thursday. “[They] confiscated our chairs but they did not get my goods,” she told the Inquirer.
Other vendors fled from the police by hiding in alleys. But when the police left, it was back to business as usual.
Pedicab driver Jhon-jhon dela Rama said the daily clearing operations had reduced his earnings. “On a good day, I earn as much as P700. But I earn nothing if the police are in the area. People here don’t want to walk too far and it’s quite a long walk,” he said.
He and other pedicab drivers wait under Quezon Bridge for passengers, most of them shoppers in Quiapo, at the Quinta public market and a mall on Palanca Street.
Dela Rama said that when they see the police, he and the other pedicab drivers drive off in different directions to avoid getting caught and having their vehicles impounded. “They are like cats chasing us, the rats,” he added.
He admitted that he did not know what a Mabuhay Lane was.
The stretch of Palanca Street to the Light Rail Transit Carriedo station is one of the 17 Mabuhay Lanes designated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to serve as alternate routes for motorists who want to avoid heavy traffic on Edsa.
The MMDA and the Highway Patrol Group of the Philippine National Police have been regularly conducting clearing operations on the Mabuhay Lanes, towing vehicles and driving out sidewalk vendors. The clearing operations, the MMDA said, will continue until June.
The MMDA said more than 800 motorists had been cited for illegal parking since the operations began on Nov. 2.
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