Will they bury the promise of the Bazar de los Puentes with a soccer field?

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María Eugenia Valencia was taken by surprise by the announcement from the Mayor’s Office: on the old and worn slabs, where the Bazar de los Puentes once stood, a sports plaque will be built. Today, those slabs are invaded by weeds, by men lying on the ground, by improvised motorcycle workshops.

Eight years have passed since the Bazar was dismantled and the innkeepers were removed, who since then have been waiting for a new market to be built in that same place –from where they were evicted–. Therefore, the idea of ​​​​the sports plate fell like a stone.

The story begins in June 2014, when an operation ordered by the Aníbal Gaviria mayor’s office evicted the 403 merchants who made up the Bazar de los Puentes. This was a popular, narrow market that had become a source of insecurity. The idea of ​​the administration was to combat the sale of drugs. So, 30 people were arrested, although no narcotics were seized.

Without an immediate solution, the innkeepers stationed themselves on the ground floor of the Prado station, in the sun and in the water; They have endured there until today waiting for the new market, promised since the destruction of the previous one, to be built. María Eugenia is the leader of the merchants who were evicted. She has spent eight years, like most, under the viaduct. “It took me by surprise about the sports plate. In other words, if they are going to make the plaque, what will happen to the new market?” the woman wondered.

Puzzled, she wrote to the manager of the Center, Mónica Pabón. The official replied that it was not about the construction of a sports plaque, but about the recovery of a place that today is invaded by homeless people and improvised motorcycle workshops. According to the response, the idea is to intervene the slab to prevent the space from being invaded and that, once and for all, the floor remains for the construction of the Second Chances Market, where the vendors will be relocated.

In a statement issued by the Management of the Center it is specified that the new slabs will be demarcated and soccer, basketball or handball can be played on them. EL COLOMBIANO wanted to expand the information with that unit, but from there they limited themselves to forwarding the press release.

And the market for when?

Recovering the space is essential for the future construction of the Market of Opportunities. Today there are some pieces of tile from the old market, tiles that recall a past that seems remote. On the site, now vacant, some motorcycle workshops have been stationed that, with tents, cover themselves from the sun; On the easternmost side there are stretched plastic tents in which the street dwellers shelter.

The underlying question is what will happen with the construction of the new market and what are the deadlines. “We fear that the temporary, like that sports scenario, will become something definitive,” said María Eugenia.

Although the Mayor’s Office has made progress with the project, the resources to execute it have not yet been defined. The plans for the new market are ready. Eight modules were even installed on the undersides of the bridges as a pilot for those they will have in the future. For now, the start of the works that the innkeepers have been waiting for for almost three administrations is uncertain.

The problem is that, after eight years, they are no longer the 400 that left the Bazaar. María Eugenia estimates that there are more than 1,000 vendors. The market would host 387. In other words, it is likely that many will continue under the subway viaduct. And in the place the problems persist for those who were evicted from the old place. It is enough to walk between the stalls to hear cries as unusual as “Crip, perico, wheels, rivotril”.

“Good news”

Those who have taken the news of the recovery of the space well are the merchants of the area. Nardrelys Quintero, who runs a restaurant in the area, was relieved when they told her about the sports space: “You can see up to 10 homeless people there. People are not tempted to enter when they see, in front, the inhabitants of the street throwing vice. This week, for example, one of them came in and stole meat from a man who was having lunch.”

Elkin Gómez, who has a workshop in front of the abandoned platform, thinks the same: “Anything they do to improve is fine. That is a rot and nothing is respected. A sports space is fine, but this will only change when the bazaar is built, as it was before”