The Mérida’s downtown is still being “invaded” by street vendors, despite Mayor Renán Barrera Concha’s promise to relocate stalls that obstruct pedestrians. The problem has already resulted in a fatality since the first of the year.
Stalls obstructing foot traffic force people to step off the sidewalk onto the street, risking being run over, as happened in Thursday, January 22nd to an unfortunate woman, witnesses reported.
On a walk around San Lucas de Gálvez and San Benito markets on any given day, the danger faced by pedestrians is obvious. The crowded sidewalks force people to walk on the road, risking their lives.
“People walking through downtown are forced to get off the sidewalks, and drivers do not seem to have any respect for pedestrians in this town”, stated a citizen interviewed by Grupo Sipse.
Many stalls are permanently installed on the sidewalks. The problem also affects the urban infrastructure, cracking the asphalt, breaking drainage lids and generating large amounts of garbage. Bus stops in Mérida´s downtown are also obstructed by vendors making it next to impossible to walk through the streets.
Mayor Renan Barrera has reportedly committed to join forces with the local Chamber of Commerce “Cámara Nacional de Comercio y Servicios Turísticos (Canaco-Servytur)”; making the street vendors’ relocation a priority.
According to interviewed citizens, the authorities are more interested in making the street traders join the current commercial law’s requirements and make them pay taxes than clearing up the streets.
Nevertheless, real solutions need to be implemented, not just by removing the stalls and confiscating their goods, but finding alternative spaces and making them part of established trade. In the Lucas de Gálvez and San Benito markets there are about a thousand empty spaces, as hundreds of merchants prefer to sell on the streets rather than working within the market premises.
Although remodeling work has already began at the market, It will be some time before the renovated spaces can be fully occupied.
Another option mentioned was the facility known as “La Pepita” which can be used to relocate the street traders.
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