City to implement accessibility code  

THE ADMINISTRATION of Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will be less lenient with sidewalk vendors who are occupying a portion of the city’s walkways, in favor of the implementation of the accessibility code.

According to the city government’s executive-legislative agenda, Mayor Duterte is partial to ordering a massive revamp of its implementation of accessibility laws, with vendors to be asked to sell their items elsewhere instead of sidewalks where it is technically illegal.

Currently, the city has tolerated the occupancy of one-thirds of the sidewalk for businesses, but obstructions beyond the one-thirds allowance are confiscated by the city government.

However, this is contrary to the Accessibility Law, which mandates for inclusive access, especially to sidewalks.

In areas with narrow walkways, such as the corner of Sta. Ana and the J.P. Laurel avenues just outside Gaisano Mall, this rule is barely followed, with pedestrians are forced to use the road side of the way.

In that area, wheelchairs cannot use the sidewalk anymore because of the City Hall policy.

The one-third/two-third policy is more applicable to wider sidewalks such as the long stretch of San Pedro Street.

But even at the busy San Pedro Street, some parts are still too narrow for the said policy.

The sidewalk of Crooked Road, for example, is so narrow that pedestrians have to walk at the main street because of the vendors already occupying the whole sidewalk.

According to the proposed policy paper, which was drafted as early as October last year, the city government will mandate the unobstructed movement of wheelchair-aided people.

“People on wheelchair should be able to roam the downtown area without being lifted by another person,” the document said.

The city government will be requiring commercial and residential owners to be responsible for the compliance of the sidewalk adjacent their properties.

There should be no sudden drop in elevation from their part of the sidewalk to the one next to their properties.

With this, the property owners will be liable for accidents happening in front of their properties if the accident is because of the state of the sidewalk.

The Roxas night market, which made national news last year because of a terrorist blast, is a result of such a compromise with the local government.

To reduce the number of sidewalk vendors, the city government experimented with formally using a portion of the Roxas Avenue to accommodate them instead.

The experiment has proven partially successful, with the area becoming a tourist attraction and the project earning the city in terms of revenue collections.

However, not all vendors are accommodated by a raffle basis for the usage of stalls, thus hundreds of stall owners still use the sidewalks to sell items.

The city government is yet to present a proposal that would be inclusive for all users of sidewalks, including vendors and accessibility stakeholders alike.

As a rule of thumb, the local government is aiming for a “seamless motorist and pedestrian connectivity.”

The City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) has been freed of the responsibility of clearing the sidewalks, with the task now given to the city’s Drainage Maintenance and City Demolition Unit through an executive order.

Years ago, officials from the Association of Differently Abled Persons threatened to sue the city government for not implementing the Accessibility Law.

City Hall, for example, does not have elevators and has steep steps.

The setup at City Hall cannot be changed as the structure has been tagged a historical building by the National Historical Commission.

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