Night Market Program
A decade ago, mounds of rubbish left behind by ambulant vendors who occupy Tagum City’s major sidewalks during night time would greet early risers. During the night, some of the vendors and their clients would become victims to petty crimes such as theft.
This messy situation soon came to the attention of the city government which decided to organize these ambulant businesses to enforce orderliness and at the same time enhance the vendors’ earning capacity and fill the city’s coffers. The City Council enacted an ordinance in October 2004 that regulated the night market. It mobilized the City Economic Enterprise Office (CEEO), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the City Health Office and Civil Security Unit (now the Security Management Office) to put an order to the night market.
There was initial hesitation and resistance from the ambulant vendors. But public consultations were effective in explaining the program and obtaining their cooperation. The vendors were encouraged to form an association that meets monthly. Their stalls were arranged in the streets according to the product they sold. Currently, the vendors of the Night Market occupy a 1.5 kilometer stretch of roads and operate nightly from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM.
Way back in 2004, there were only about 82 vendors operating in the night market. At present, there are about 317 registered vendors and business owners operating in the Night Market selling food, footwear, used clothing and bags, and gift items. Others offer services such as the beauty salons and massage clinics. The 1,268 employees in the night market are composed of working students, parents and out-of-school youths.
A cash ticket system, locally known as arkabala, enables the LGU to earn revenue by as much as PhP20,000 nightly. This efficient nightly collection system has made the city’s revenue generating unit one of the few earning economic enterprise offices in the Philippines. Instead of being subsidized by the local government, the office has contributed to the General Fund, and this has enabled the city government to finance its developmental programs and projects. The city also collects an annual night market fee of 150 pesos. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, the night market was able to generate a total collection of PhP1.75 million.
To entice visitors, the local government organized security teams that roam the area to make sure that the general public feels safe when dining out, shopping or just strolling around the area. Since the start of night market operation in 2004, petty crimes have been wiped out and not a single crime has been recorded.
Solid waste management was also strictly implemented; the vendors practiced the proper disposal of their respective waste and adopted the clean-as-you-go method. After 2:00 AM, the streets are already free of clutter and garbage.
In the implementation of the project, the local government made sure that the beneficiaries took part in the formulation of policies and regulations. It also enhanced the capacities of the vendors by conducting trainings and workshops on legal matters, values formation, health awareness, financial literacy and management, food handling, entrepreneurship, solid waste management and other programs that are essential to the development of the night market business operations. These activities guaranteed community ownership of the program.
The dynamic partnership between the LGU and the night market vendors association is a major factor in the success of the program. As such, regular meetings are being conducted to constantly monitor and evaluate operations. To further ensure “check and balance,” an Economic Enterprise Regulatory Board will soon be institutionalized.
The Local Government of Tagum City is now a favorite Lakbay-Aral destination of LGUs which want to replicate its best practices in governance and development.