Saigon's Captain Sidewalk looks to fine mother-in-law’s restaurant for dumping sewage

By Xuan An   August 25, 2017 | 11:43 am GMT+7
Saigon's Captain Sidewalk looks to fine mother-in-law’s restaurant for dumping sewage
Doan Ngoc Hai (L) in an inspection during his sidewalk campaign in the heart of Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan An

'I want to make an example of my family by punishing them first.'

If you want to change the city, start with your family (-in-law).

Doan Ngoc Hai, the man leading the sidewalk cleanup in the heart of Saigon, has taken up this Gandhi-themed motto by ordering environment officials to inspect his mother-in-law's restaurant for dumping waste illegally.

Hai, vice chairman of the city’s District 1, said on Thursday that he had instructed the district’s environment department to check the restaurant, a popular one on Hoang Sa Street, for signs of pollution.

He said he believes that most restaurants in the downtown district do not have wastewater treatment systems in place.

“I want to make an example of my family by punishing them first,” he said.

He said all restaurants must be forced to install sewage treatment systems “to reduce the cancer rate”. There are 155 cancer patients for every 100,000 people in the southern city, according to figures released by the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital last December. Liver and colorectal cancers, those related to food and water hygiene, are among the most common.

District 1 authorities started the sidewalk revolution early in February in a bid to take back the sidewalks for their original purpose and turn the district into a “Little Singapore”.

They have put up barriers and deployed police to stop motorbikes from driving on the sidewalks. They have also been towing vehicles, including government and foreign diplomatic cars, and destroying any invasive constructions that spilled out onto the street, some of which belong to five-star hotels.

The project has been widely applauded by locals, but it has also raised concerns for being too extreme. Street vendors across District 1 are possibly the unhappiest and have been seen crying and yelling when police seize their food stands.

The campaign hit a four-month hiatus before resuming earlier this month.

Upon his return, Hai asked for a “carte blanche to punish anyone that breaks the rules, even officials.” He and his inspection teams have punished more than 100 car owners and many restaurants for taking up the sidewalks.

He has also shut down one the city’s biggest parking lots near the Opera House because its license had expired and there was a conflict of interest in management.

 
 
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