Is ‘Valeria Project’ sustainable?

Project Iloilo photo
Project Iloilo photo

THE nightly inasalan (barbecue) street in Iloilo City is meant to boost the city’s tourism and income of small-time vendors and entrepreneurs.

But will it avoid the fate of similar projects in the past which fizzled out after much hullaballoo?

Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said he plans to convert 130 meters of Valeria Street (from corner Rizal to Ledesma) into a food place where vendors can sell barbecues.

Mabilog revealed the plan in his meeting with City Hall department heads recently.

The idea is not totally new as portion of Valeria Street turns into a food haven starting 5 p.m. daily, with inasal vendors setting up kiosks to accommodate weary Ilonggos who want to enjoy good food and booze with family and friends.

Mabilog said “Valeria Project” can help accelerate the city’s economic development by providing opportunities to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as boost tourism.

One vendor, Pablo Algarne, said he has been selling barbecue in Valeria since 1980. He sets up his kiosk at 4 p.m. and serves food from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mabilog believes that with many established vendors in the area, Valeria’s tourism potential is high since local tourists are regular clientele.

If approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod, the project is seen to address the issues of sanitation, safety and security, solid waste management and aesthetics.

Under the proposal, barbecue vendors will organize themselves into a group.

The city government will also use the P500,000 Heritage Fund for the construction of infrastructures and facilities.

To improve the aesthetics of the place, Mabilog said they will provide portable toilets, sidewalks with paver blocks, removable bollards, streetlights, among others.

City Administrator Hernando Galvez said the Valeria Project is part of the city government efforts to help small vendors.

After the displacement of sidewalk vendors in Jaro Plaza recently, Galvez said the city assessed the situation and devised plans on how to help the small vendors.

The Valeria project is reminiscent of the night market project at Muelle Loney and the pedestrianization of Calle Real also in downtown Iloilo City.

Both projects also tried to spice up the leisure and cultural life of the once majestic Calle Real and Muelle Loney areas.

But both fizzled out despite much publicity and enormous resources poured by City Hall.

Galvez undermined doubts on the sustainability of the project following the Calle Real and Mulle Loney experience, which were also pet projects of Mabilog.

Galvez said the possibility of success of Valeria inasalan project is higher as it already has existing vendors and regular patrons despite its present conditions.

All the city needs to do is regulate and support the vendors to make the place more attractive, he stressed.

Traffic is also a consideration since the portion of Valeria Street where the nightly street food area will be located caters to five public utility routes.

Galvez said they already studied traffic flow in the area and traffic managers will devise rerouting schemes to avoid jams, especially during nighttime rush.

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