Nalzaro: The price of development

·4 min read

CARBON Market is the oldest and largest farmers’ market in Cebu City. Aside from being the market for ordinary people, it is also a major tourist attraction. It is located on MC Briones St., in Barangay Ermita, a seaside barangay, and is accessible to most buses and jeepneys. There, you can find almost everything, from fresh fish, meat, vegetables, kitchen ware, souvenirs and locally made handicraft.

Aside from being the people’s market, Carbon is also the haven for some criminal elements, like pickpockets, robbers, snatchers, holduppers and drug-dealers. But with the presence of police elements and the nearby Carbon Police Station and with the support of well-organized vendors associations and some concerned citizens, criminality has been controlled.

Carbon Market is named for the depot where coal was unloaded from the Cebu Railroad. Another story is that, it was named for the heap of waste cinders dumped there in the 19th century. It existed more than a century now.

It has been a long plan of the Cebu City government to modernize and develop Carbon Market under Public, Private Partnership (PPP)? Two big developers, Megawide Construction Corp. and the Cebu Court of First Instance (CFI) Community Cooperative, offered to develop Carbon Market into a world-class market under a Joint Venture Agreement (JBA) with the City Government.

Megawide made the first unsolicited proposal, but was later challenged by CFI. In its website, Megawide Construction Corp. is one of the leading engineering and infrastructure conglomerates in the country. It partnered with India-based GMR in running the operations at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA). The company planned to transform the area from Freedom Park to the seaside area of Carbon into a business center with in-city hotels, restaurant hub, parks and a well-designed public market.

CFI Cooperative, which was founded by the late judge Esperanza Fiel Garcia in the 70’s, is one of the most successful cooperatives in the country with billions of pesos in asset. It is now chaired by former GSIS president and general manager lawyer Winston Garcia. It also offered to develop the area into a world-class market with initial capitalization of P3.5 billion. If the proposal is approved, upland farmers and fisherfolk will be able to do away with middlemen and increase their profits inside the modern facility.

Well, there is no doubt that the two parties have the financial capability to develop Carbon Market into a high-end and world-class market. I am not against modernization and development because we are going there. I have just some reservations on the plan. Modernization and development has its own price. It can displace people doing business, destroy environment and historical facts.

The two parties, though, assured that no legitimate vendors will be displaced. They will be accommodated in the new facility. Okay. But the question is, can the vendors afford the high rental? Who are the people doing business in Carbon? They are the small and medium entrepreneurs. Presently, they are renting an affordable rental fee with the City Government. Once either Megawide or CFI gets the contract, for sure, the rental would increase. I am afraid that these present occupants will just sell their stalls to big businessmen and they will transfer their businesses to other satellite markets.

Remember the Cebu City condominium? It was intended for the informal settlers. But who occupied the condominium? Teachers, policemen and even fiscals. The intended beneficiaries backed out and sold their units because they cannot afford the monthly amortization.

And who are the customers of Carbon market? They are the ordinary people and can go there without dress code. They can get inside even in short pants and slippers and they can ask for a big discount or haggle for prices. Once developed, maybe the management will impose dress code and we can no longer ask for a big discount or haggle because there will already be a price tag in every item, like in supermarkets and groceries. Besides, customers will have to pay for parking area, such as in malls.

What about the “kargadors” (those doing errands) and the ambulant vendors selling per piece of vegetables who are also earning a living in Carbon? Can they still do their daily living once Caron is fully developed?

(“Bobby Nalzaro On Board, Saksi” over DYSS-A, 6-10 am, Monday-Saturday, can be viewed on Facebook under FB account: Super Radyo DYSS 999 khz).