Chaos returns to Saigon's sidewalks after cleanup campaign stalls

By Duy Tran   May 5, 2017 | 07:00 pm GMT+7

Things have returned to business as usual in District 1 just a month after city authorities handed over the cleanup campaign to local units.

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A campaign that became known as the "sidewalk cleanup" was started in Ho Chi Minh's District 1 back in early February, with barriers erected and police dispatched to stop anyone from encroaching on the sidewalks. By May, two cars carrying blue government license plates were parked on the sidewalk of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street for hours.

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The sidewalk area around the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum on Pho Duc Chinh Street is filled with vendors' carts.

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Vendors are selling various products on Nguyen Thai Binh and Pho Duc Chinh, only 300 meters from the People's Committee office of Nguyen Thai Binh Ward.

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A car parked on the sidewalk on Ho Hao Hon Street.

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A blue-plated car was parked for more than 30 minutes in a no-parking area on Nguyen Thai Binh Street.

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The reoccupation is most obvious in the evenings when many eateries put tables out on the sidewalks like this one on Hoang Sa Street. “Authorities have eased up so we have taken our chance,” the owner of an eatery told VnExpress.

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Many restaurants are using the sidewalks as parking areas for their customers. “Over a month ago when the authorities tightened control over the sidewalks, these restaurants did not dare to put motorbikes there, but now I have to walk in the street when I go out for exercise every evening to avoid the motorbikes,” a resident named Phan Cong in Tan Dinh Ward said.

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This car was parked for hours next to a pub on Tran Cao Van Street.

When asked about the sidewalk reoccupation, some ward leaders refused to answer while others said they were continuing the cleanup work, but they “did not have many people to do the job, so it has not been very effective.”

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District 1's Vice Chairman Doan Ngoc Hai (in white shirt) said he is aware of the situation, saying several restaurants that had been fined for using the sidewalks had returned to the streets. "If the authorities cannot clear the sidewalks and are afraid of violators, they do not deserve their salaries, which come from taypayers.” he said.