HCMC should privatize sidewalk management: urban expert

By Viet Duc   August 31, 2023 | 01:28 am PT
HCMC should privatize sidewalk management: urban expert
A task force seizes tables and chairs of a pub encroaching the sidewalk on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street of HCMC's District 1 in 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran
Government agencies cannot manage HCMC's sidewalks round the clock, and private companies should be hired for the task, an urban expert has advised.

"The city's decision to impose fees for using roads and sidewalks is reasonable, but will be difficult to implement if it cannot inspect and handle all violations," Du Phuoc Tan, head of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies' urban management and research division, said Wednesday.

City authorities plan to lease out sidewalks in many places that are at least 1.5 m wide from September for parking and cultural and commercial activities.

The tariffs have not been announced but the Department of Transport said earlier that it wanted VND50,000-350,000 (US$2-15) for a square meter, depending on the area.

Businesses would get a discounted fee of VND20,000-100,000 per square meter.

It is expected to fetch the city VND1.52 trillion ($66 million) a year, which would go into the national budget for road maintenance.

Tan said the main feature of the sidewalk economy is flexibility, which means many vendors could come to the same spot and sell their products at different times from early in the morning until late at night.

So officials working during office hours would not be able to manage the sidewalks around the clock, he pointed out.

Nevertheless, once the sidewalk rentals are collected, the city must ensure that every business that has paid must have its rights protected, and illegal encroachers must be fined, he said.

So the city should use part of the rental to hire private investors to keep out encroachers, he suggested.

Nguyen Ngoc Bich, deputy head of the District 4 urban order management unit, said it is in fact "very challenging" to file a report when handling sidewalk violations because violators refused to provide their personal information and the unit could not force them to do so.

Huynh Quoc Thang, a lecturer at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in HCMC, said the city should take full advantage of technology to manage sidewalks, including the use of security cameras.

He said it is impossible to manage thousands of locations with only human resources.

HCMC has more than 4,800 streets that are more than five meters wide, but almost 2,600 of them have no space for pedestrians since their sidewalks are illegally occupied.

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