Family residing on La Paz’ overpass relocated

The overpass in Lapaz, Iloilo City is now clear of settlers after the family who used the structure as a makeshift house were relocarted. (Mariela Angella Oladive photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

The makeshift dwelling set up by a family on the pedestrian overpass along Luna Street in La Paz has been vacated and cleared, following the relocation of the residents to a new site provided by the city government.

The family of “Toto,” his spouse, their three children, and a relative, had faced housing and financial hardships, prompting their stay on the overpass.

Their situation garnered attention following Mayor Jerry Treñas’ decision to raze the overpass for safety concerns and misuse.

In an interview with Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, “Toto” expressed gratitude for the assistance he received.

Toto expressed his thanks during an Aksyon Radyo Iloilo interview, noting the significant improvement from their previous living conditions. He pledged to value and care for the lot given to them by the city.

“Mas okay na di sang sa dalan. Ang importante nga nakakuha kami sang lote para sa amon. Bag-o ko di gindala sang mga staff ni mayor ang amon na-istoryahan nga halungan ko ang lote nga ginhatag sa amon kag gamiton ko sang insakto. Nagpasalig ko sa mga staff ni mayor nga kon ano ang pagsalig nga ginhatag nila sa akon, tupungan ko,” Toto stated.

(It’s much better here than being on the street. What’s important is that we were able to secure a lot for ourselves. Before the mayor’s staff brought us here, I promised to them that I would take care and use this lot properly. I assured them that whatever trust they’ve placed in me, I will honor it.)

The family was relocated to a housing site in Sambag, Jaro, on Tuesday, April 2, where they were provided with a temporary shelter while waiting for their permanent house to be constructed.

Marian Penit, the head of the City Social Welfare and Development Office-La Paz district, said that the family only needs to fulfill certain documentation requirements to secure permanent residency in the area.

Now that the overpass has been vacated, the city can advance its agenda for area enhancement and safety improvements, with intentions to convert it into a more pedestrian-friendly zone.

Jeck Conlu, Iloilo City’s Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), disclosed plans of creating three pedestrian lanes in its place, with signage installation to guide pedestrians.

Additionally, traffic aides will be stationed to assist passersby, particularly students.

Conlu stated that there is no set date yet for the demolition as it will still have to undergo the necessary processes.

Mayor Jerry Treñas cited several reasons for recommending the demolition of the overpass, including safety concerns, urban development, cleanliness, and the frequent habitation of individuals within the structure.

The pedestrian overpass connecting the West Visayas State University and Iloilo National High School was originally intended to ease traffic in the mid-90s under the guidance of then-Congressman Raul Gonzalez Sr. and Mayor Mansueto Malabor.

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