Locals retake Hanoi's sidewalks as cleanup campaign dies down

By Pham Du, Quang Chien   May 9, 2017 | 08:27 am GMT+7

Wooden doorsteps, plastic chairs and motorbikes have returned to the sidewalks.

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The sidewalk cleanup campaign swept through Hanoi in late February and March, with local authorities removing advertisement signs, vendor carts and demolishing doorsteps or ramps that protrude into the sidewalk. However, many of them have returned to Xa Dan Street, such as this wooden ramp.

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For this clothes shop, its demolished doorsteps returned in the form of crude wooden boxes.

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Rubble from old doorsteps remain in front of many houses.

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Some locals claimed that since many houses' ground floors are 60-80 centimeters (2-2.6 feet) above the sidewalks, the loss of their old doorsteps had made it difficult to enter and leave their houses. Many have employed these temporary solutions as a result.

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During the cleanup campaign, local authorities painted white lines to mark parking areas on the sidewalks. However, many motorbikes are now parked outside the designated areas.

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Many tea vendors are operating again with small plastic stools.

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Some locals even brought out chairs to read newspapers on the sidewalk.

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This key maker has returned to Xa Dan Street's sidewalk for a month following a break during the cleanup campaign.

“This is my family's main source of income so I still have to go to the sidewalk. When the authorities come to warn me, I just pack my stuff and move inside,” he said.

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Most residents living on Xa Dan Street follow the policy to keep good order on the sidewalks, according to a leader of the People's Committee of Nam Dong Ward. “Our staff propagate and remind people everyday but some still deliberately encroach on the sidewalks,” he said.


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Hanoi started its campaign to restore order to the sidewalks back in late February, with a three-step sidewalk reclamation plan officially kicking off on March 10. Local authorities first notified people of the plan and encouraged them to cleanup the sidewalks themselves. Offenders were then given a warning and a deadline, after which any remaining obstructions on the sidewalks were forcibly removed, and offenders fined. In order to free up the sidewalks, the city leaders have repeatedly asserted that Hanoi could not make a “loud, noisy” campaign but have to do it professionally and persistently.