Hanoi to punish officials if sidewalks are reoccupied by vendors

By Vo Hai, Doan Loan   May 17, 2017 | 09:59 pm GMT+7
Hanoi to punish officials if sidewalks are reoccupied by vendors
A busy shoe repair shop on Hang Dau Street. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

The authorities also admit to have acted too hastily in a campaign that saw trees being cut down and allocated parking areas being sectioned off.

Hanoi plans to set up five inspection teams to monitor the progress of its sidewalk cleanup following reports that ward officials have allowed the streets to be reclaimed by vendors.

Mayor Hoang Trung Hai announced the decision at a National Assembly meeting on Tuesday.

In some areas, urban order and the sidewalks are not being protected strongly enough, Hai said. As a result, the city will set up five inspection units to prevent people from encroaching on the sidewalks and take disciplinary action against ward officials that allow it to happen.

“If a district or ward allows disorder to return to its streets, its leaders will be punished,” Hai said.

Official data shows that during the first days of the sidewalk cleanup campaign, 22,700 officials were tasked with enforcing the ban and over 110,000 letters were sent to offenders, leading to thousands of households promising not to encroach on the sidewalks. However, the city's authorities have also acknowledged that they may have acted too hastily, resulting in incidents such as trees being cut down and allocated parking areas being sectioned off.

To prevent people from returning to the sidewalks, Dong Da District has set up a hotline for people to report violations and is planning to install cameras to monitor the situation, according to Ha Anh Tuan, head of Dong Da District's Urban Management Office. The district currently has eight inspection units patrolling its 72 streets.

Dong Da has already managed to persuade 101 out of its nearly 400 street vendors to move into roadside premises, and has offered loans to 138 vendors and their families to help them set up shops in alternative locations.

Hoan Kiem District has also relocated most of its street vendors into markets or buildings in the pedestrian area. “There are still some street vendors around Hoan Kiem Lake, but they're mostly rare cases that we have missed and are operating without our permission,” said Pham Tuan Long, vice chairman of Hoan Kiem District.

Districts in Hanoi have been assigned with the task of persuading street vendors to move into markets the city plans to set up for them. “However this is a time-consuming process that needs public approval. The most effective solution is for street vendors to voluntarily move off the sidewalks,” a representative of Hanoi's People's Committee said.