BACK TO STREET PEDDLING
He thought he had lost his means of livelihood but yesterday morning, Jovani Pepito, 37, heaved a sigh of relief upon knowing that he would still be allowed to sell his vegetables outside the burnt Unit III of the Carbon Public Market.
“Naguol intawun oy. Kinsay di maguol og tan-aw nga naugdaw ang lugar kung asa unta ka naninda,” said Pepito.
(I was really worried. Who wouldn’t be worried watching the place where you make a living being devoured by fire.)
Pepito had been selling vegetables for a year in a stall rented by his cousin in Unit III.
He and several other vendors whose stalls were burned have been allowed to sell their wares along Quezon Blvd. near the site of the fire.
There are more than 3,000 market vendors in Cebu City, not just in Carbon market but the other satellite markets in the city. Of the 600 vendors occupying Unit III, 120 of them lost their stalls to Thursday’s fire.
The Cebu City Market Authority Office announced yesterday that they will suspend indefinitely the
renewal of market permits not only of vendors of Carbon market but also those from other markets.
Cebu City Market Administrator, lawyer Winifredo Orcullo Jr., said the fire turned most of their documents needed for permit renewal to ashes.
“The renewal of market permits will be suspended until further notice since we have to retrieve whatever files we can find (in the fire site). But this doesn’t mean they are not allowed to sell again,” he said.
The fire which razed Unit III also razed the Market Authority office which was located on the second floor.
“We’re still waiting for official announcement from the higher-ups if we can rebuild there (Unit III) but definitely, we will have to look for a place to stay temporarily. Hopefully, somewhere near City Hall and Carbon market,” he said. Orcullo said they managed to salvage a few documents but were still wet since firefighters pumped water into the burning Unit III for four hours, from 3:16 p.m. to 7:19 p.m., on Thursday.
In a separate interview, Councilor Alvin Arcilla said the suspension of the renewal of market permits would not have any significant impact on the vendors in the city. Arcilla, chairperson of the council’s committee on markets, assured the vendors that they can still continue to sell in their respective areas even if the
renewal for their permits is temporarily stopped.
“The suspension does not mean they are not allowed to sell again. This is just temporary,” said Arcilla. “Besides, the stalls are already occupied. And we have a lot-plan or a layout of the markets containing the details such as the names of the vendors renting each stall,” he added.
Cause of fire
The Bureau of Fire Protection in Cebu City (BFP- Cebu City) is yet to determine the cause of the fire in Unit III.
In a separate phone interview with CDN, BFP – Cebu City Fire Marshall, Chief Insp. Noel Ababon, said they will invite witnesses to verify claims of some vendors that the fire was caused by a faulty electrical wiring system.
“We don’t discount that possibility, especially coming from the vendors themselves. We are yet to invite and interview witnesses to shed light on this matter,” said Ababon. “We might also invite and interview the employees from the City Market Administration to help us in our investigation,” he added.
If the fire was indeed caused by a faulty electrical system, Ababon said they may recommend for the city government to improve Unit III’s electrical system. “And to prohibit vendors from tapping illegally, overloading the circuits or anything that will definitely lead to fire,” said Ababon.
Flames reportedly started near the warehouse of the city government’s Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, Enhancement (PROBE) team. The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO) recommended improving the ventilation and electrical system of Unit III to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
CCDRRMO chief Nagiel Bañacia said they observed that the flames quickly spread to the City Market Authority Office due to poor ventilation.
“The fire and heat were trapped inside because the outlet on the roof is too narrow,” Bañacia said. He also said an electrical revamp is needed inside Unit III of Carbon Public Market since the fire was sparked by a live wire that was snapped into two. /With Benjie B. Talisic
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