Ridding sidewalks and streets of illegal vendors and obstacles is apparently the in thing among government officials these days.

Mayor Isko Moreno has gone all-out with clearing operations in Manila, providing thoroughfares like Taft Avenue and places like Divisoria with some much-needed breathing room. And now a bill has been filed in Congress with the aim of making stall-clogged side streets a thing of the past.

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House Bill 504, otherwise known as the Sidewalks and Public Roads Use Act, seeks to regulate the use of sidewalks and public roads.

The bill's author, Representative Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte's second district, says such infrastructure is meant for the utilization and enjoyment of the general public, not stalls and terminals. Barbers also criticized car owners who use streets as personal parking areas.

"Adding to the already chaotic situation is the proliferation of terminals of public utility vehicles. Our roads are not built for such purposes and the taxpayers have all the right to complain. It is a fact that traffic in urban areas results in economic losses amounting to billions of pesos yearly. Should these road obstructions be cleared, traffic flow will ease and a more robust economy will result," Barbers said.

"House Bill 504 declares it is the policy of the State to clear sidewalks and public roads from unauthorized commercial or personal use to facilitate the smooth passage of persons and clear all obstructions to traffic and vehicular flow," the Congress press release reads.

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"Sidewalks and public roads must be maintained to allow safe pedestrian passage and ease in traffic flow that will result in a more progressive economy, it further declares."

Here's what the bill prohibits on sidewalks and public roads:

  • Building any edifice, stall, and other similar structures
  • Putting up any business and other forms of obstruction
  • Leaving garbage and other junk materials
  • Engaging in ambulant vending
  • Other acts that tend to impede or obstruct the use of sidewalks which are meant to service pedestrians

Establishments that wish to use sidewalks to temporarily conduct business-such as vulcanizing shops, repair shops, parking spaces, eateries, and advertisement spaces-must obtain a special permit from authorities. Without it, using roads and sidewalks to conduct business is considered unlawful. What's more, local government units are prohibited from turning public roads into parking spaces and terminals.

The fine for those caught the Sidewalks and Public Roads Use Act is a P1,000 to P10,000 fine and the impounding of their vehicle.

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You can read the full press release here. So, do you hope this becomes a law? Let us know in the comments.

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