SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/14 June) – The city councilor who proposed the night café revelry along the boulevard here advised traders who oppose the weekend food fair to learn how to share the prime commercial strip to smaller vendors and not keep it to themselves.
“The bottom line is, they only want the boulevard all to themselves. They should also give small-time traders a chance to do business there because in the first place, this is what the ordinance is all about – giving opportunity to all to do business in the area,” said Councilor Christopher T. Bonite.
He said he is looking forward to answer all the questions raised by the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (SCCII) over the operations of the night café in a dialogue scheduled for Wednesday.
But sticking to his guns, Bonite said he will tell the businessmen that the operation of stalls along the boulevard was for the interest of all parties.
“Let us be fair. The big investors can also put up stalls at the night café because it is open to everyone, not just for the small businessmen,” the councilor said.
In a letter to Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas, SCCII President Johann Jake B. Miranda said the night café operations “demean the multimillion investments” along the boulevard area, while siphoning the profits from the regular establishments that pay more taxes.
“The operation every week is declining and has become unattractive and the few remaining operators are benefitting more than the established operators,” the SCCI said in their letter dated May 19.
As early as April this year, the night café has been receiving flak from local officials and residents for its apparent failure but the city council has deferred decision as to the night café’s fate “since it is still too early.” The night café started November last year.
The City Treasurer’s Office reported that the night café operations, which was patterned after Cagayan de Oro’s, earned P78,800 for the first quarter of 2011. From November to December last year, the earnings totaled P64,000 with 32 stall operators.
CTO records obtained by MindaNews showed that from the original 32 tenants in 2010, only 12 operators have remained. A cursory visit to the boulevard over the weekend showed the operators dwindled to four.
The city ordinance allowed the operations of the night café along a stretch of the city boulevard more than a kilometer long. It blocks the major roads leading to boulevard, thus preventing private and public vehicles from entering the area.
Miranda, who incidentally owns Hotel Tavern Surigao which is also along the boulevard, said the barricades have discouraged regular patrons of the hotel and other neighboring establishments from visiting their places on Fridays and Saturdays because they are barred from parking their cars in the area.
“It is not that we are losing customers because they (tenants at the night café) are operating. It is because no one is flocking the boulevard anymore because they blocked the roads,” Miranda lamented.
Miranda said the chamber has instead proposed for the city to create a management board for the boulevard which will supervise the “comprehensive development” of the area “so we can finally attract the right business to this prime area.”
As to the planned night market, Miranda said this is again another “untimely” move that the city council should “reevaluate” as “this will only add to the already confusing state of affairs in the boulevard.”