The city government is reviewing the social and environmental impact of the Session Road pedestrianization program that causes the closure of the main thoroughfare during Sundays.
Social issues being considered are on environmental impact, particularly air pollution, waste generation and disposal as well as traffic repercussions to other roads; audit of sales from trade booths; and crime statistics, among other concerns.
The Session Road Pedestrianization Task Force led by the City Tourism Office met on Jan. 23 to review the concerns that city executives raised and monitored public comments via social media pages of the city.
The city government temporarily closes Session Road from vehicular access on Sundays to promote pedestrianization by encouraging residents and visitors to walk and showcase skills and talents by joining busking performances and other art activities.
This way, the city believes that emission of air pollutants is minimized along the main thoroughfare.
However, official monitoring of data on air pollutants during closure of Session Road has not been submitted.
In 2022, the city started conducting the Session Road pedestrianization to intensify promotions and marketing of medium, small and micro enterprises’ products to the domestic market as a means of economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The program likewise aims to enliven culture, arts and crafts through the conduct of various culture and arts related activities as a means of maintaining the city’s Unesco Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts title.
The city cites the Local Government Code of 1991 in the temporary closure of the national road for said activities.
Last year, the city government issued guidelines to address several issues and concerns on selling and/or merchants abusing their privilege; products sold are not different from market products; unregulated busking, with too many participants causing crowding; agents making busking a business; busking outside of Session Road and on weekdays; use of animals in busking; mendicants posing as buskers; harassment of buskers by promenaders and vice versa; and unregulated solicitations among others.
While some of the concerns were already addressed, the task force and the City Tourism Office serving as secretariat and overseer of the Session Road Sunday Pedestrianization activity is yet to come up with recommendations to address emerging concerns and whether to continue or stop the activity. – Jessa Mardy P. Samidan