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Improved systems on crowd control will be implemented on the night market to avoid a repeat of the disorder experienced during its reopening last Dec. 1.
Upon the orders of Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a task force composed of City Treasurer Alex Cabarrubias, Baguio City Police Director Allen Co, Market Superintendent Fernando Ragma Jr., Public Order and Safety Division Head Marvin Herrera and Daryll Longid and P Capt. Romeo Galpo conducted a post-event assessment to evaluate the incident where they identified problems and possible solutions.
Ragma said that as a result of the meeting, strategies were reviewed vis-a-vis the problems encountered and new schemes were crafted.
To better control the crowd, more restrictions will be imposed like the area will be cordoned off and entry and exit points will be designated and restricted adopting the scheme used at the city market during the quarantine.
Physical arrangement of stalls and lanes will be redesigned to allow more room for clients to move around with distancing. Food stalls will be relocated to the Ganza parking area to separate food patrons from those going to the dry goods section.
Mobilization of safety officers from the vendors’ ranks and personnel from the BCPO and the POSD will be enhanced for tighter monitoring and imposition of the health measures.
Ragma said once these new measures had been ironed out, operations will resume on the condition that should protocol problem occur again, operations will automatically be stopped.
He said they have been engaging the vendors groups to emphasize their obligation to help in the implementation of protocols.
Ragma admitted that their preparation for the reopening last Dec. 1 was not enough as they failed to anticipate the influx of the crowd that will venture into the night market.
He said they did their best to prepare all the while thinking that it will attract only a small crowd considering that there are still no students, only a few tourists and most of the workers are at home.
“We did not consider other factors like the spillover of the crowd who attended the Christmas program and proceeded to the night market and the excitement of the locals to go out of their homes from months of being told to stay home,” he said.
He said they approved a total of 481 stalls or one-fourth of the original number of stalls but of the number only 398 signified intention and only 350 actually opened as others opted for a wait-and-see.
But still the influx was great that it became impossible to impose the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health and safety protocols.
The mayor immediately suspended the operation the following day.
The city pursued the resumption of the reopening of the night market as part of the thrust to reopen the economy and restore the livelihood of the displaced vendors following the Coronavirus disease pandemic.
However he said that reopening businesses should not mean sacrificing the health and safety of the people and setting aside the health protocols against the virus.
“We must strike a balance between reopening the economy and safeguarding the health and safety of the people. This is our new normal direction,” the mayor said.
Ragma echoed the position saying the city badly needs an economic stimulus to help people stripped of their livelihood since the pandemic and the night market could be one of these programs that can help.
Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO Baguio