Saigon market vendors protest stalled upgrade work after handing over $9.8 mln to authorities

By Staff reporters   September 19, 2017 | 05:23 pm GMT+7

It's been four years since the market's 2,000-plus vendors managed to cobble the money together, but all they've seen is customers walking away.

Vendors at one of the biggest traditional markets in Saigon shut up shops on Tuesday to protest against extensive delays to upgrade work on the facility.

The vendors say they have been waiting for four years for work to start on An Dong Market after they handed over a combined VND217 billion ($9.5 million) to local authorities.

All 2,305 vendors from the market were joined by hundreds of supporters from early Tuesday, holding banners and wearing red t-shirts emblazoned with the market's name on them, local media reported.

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Vendors protest outside An Dong Market in Saigon's District 5 on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Voice of Vietnam

Revenues have fallen by half in the dilapidated market, which was built more than 25 years ago. The market, which is known for its wide collection of goods that range from fabrics and clothing to dried foods and handicrafts, leaks when it rains and is suffocatingly hot on sunny days, keeping customers away.

Vendors estimate they could have earned VND48 billion ($2 million) in interest if they had deposited the money at a bank.

Instead, many are paying interest on loans they took out to pay for the upgrade work.

The vendors also disagree with a government rule that states they have to renew their contracts regularly to lease stands in the market. They believe that wet market vendors own indefinite leasehold rights.

Officials from District 5, which manages the market, met with the vendors later Tuesday but failed to hash out a satisfactory answer or solution to the issue.