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Saigon unveils much-awaited plan for downtown street food zones

By Trung Son   March 21, 2017 | 10:26 am GMT+7

The city may have figured out how to help low-income vendors.

For the first time, Ho Chi Minh City will create dedicated spaces for street food where low-income vendors can sell safe products without paying any fee.

The plan, unveiled on Monday, came after the city launched in early February a sidewalk cleanup campaign to remove invasive business activities that were believed to worsen traffic congestion and rob pedestrians of their space. The authorities aim to turn District 1 in the city's downtown into a "Little Singapore."

"The biggest concern is that, for street vendors, what they earn from selling food on sidewalks is their main source of income," Tran The Thuan, chairman of District 1, told a meeting on Monday with the municipal government. "That's why we came up with this idea of special zones for street vendors."

This is what a street food zone in downtown Ho Chi Minh City could look like, according to a new plan unveiled by officials on Monday. Photo by VnExpress

This is what a street food zone in downtown Ho Chi Minh City could look like, according to a new plan unveiled by officials on Monday.

The plan, in its current form, includes moving street vendors to Nguyen Van Chiem Street behind the Notre Dame Cathedral, and Bach Tung Diep Park near the Reunification Palace.

The district will not charge any fees and will provide training on food safety and recycling. Tables and chairs for customers will also be provided for free.

Street vendors along Nguyen Van Chiem Street will be encouraged to only sell takeout in order to serve more customers.

However, vendors can only open their stands for limited hours to ensure traffic safety.

"Street food is the hallmark of the city," said Tuyen, adding that resolving the sidewalk issue is a must, but livelihoods must be considered.

Ho Chi Minh City is one of Vietnam's most popular destinations. It has projected to welcome six million foreign visitors this year, after recording a 10 percent annual rise in the number of foreign arrivals last year, to 5.2 million.

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