Ho Chi Minh City has announced plans to organize a street food area from June this year to support poor vendors affected by the sidewalk cleanup campaign, and to preserve its street culture.
District 1 officials said they plan to move street vendors to Nguyen Van Chiem Street near Notre Dame Cathedral, Bach Dang Park along Ton Duc Thang Street and the Saigon River, and then to sidewalks wider than three meters.
District chaiman Tran The Thuan told Phap Luat Ho Chi Minh City (Ho Chi Minh City Law) newspaper that the plan aims to help 500 street vendors who have been plying their trade for years in the area.
“It won’t just be a place of business; it will show the city's special culture,” Thuan said.
|A woman counts money next to her baskets of noodles on a Ho Chi Minh City street.
He said the district is also advising street vendors of a working age about more stable ways of making a living.
Authorities in District 1 started the "sidewalk revolution" early in February in a bid to reclaim the sidewalks for their original purpose and turn the district into a “Little Singapore”.
They have put up barriers and positioned police to stop motorbikes from driving on sidewalks. They have also towed many cars and destroyed invasive constructions.
The project has been widely applauded by locals, but it has also raised concerns for being too extreme.
Street vendors across District 1 are possibly the unhappiest. Some sandwich vendors have been left in tears as police roll their shops on wheels away, while others have scaled down from a pushcart to a basket so they can make a swift getaway.
Tran Le Thuy Van, who started selling noodles on Mac Dinh Chi five years ago, said the pushcart earned her family around VND250,000 (US$11) every day, until the sidewalk campaign.
Van said local officials recently told her that she will be allowed to resume business at a street food corner, but only for two hours in the morning and two hours around noon.
“We will need more time,” she said, as cited by Phap Luat.
Thuan said the district will be open to all opinions before making a final decision.