Chaos returns to Saigon's sidewalks as cleanup campaign loses bite

By Duy Tran   December 21, 2017 | 10:38 am GMT+7

Cars and eateries are back two months after the man spearheading the cleanup campaign was asked to step aside.

Four cars park on the sidewalk of Hoang Sa Street in District 1 one day in December. Many eateries signboards also have no trouble reaching out. Doan Ngoc Hai, the districts vice chairman, started the cleanup campaign in January with hopes to return sidewalk to pedestrians. His daily patrols have brought significant changes, but he was asked to step aside in October as the district set up a new task force who will only act upon complaints.

Four cars parked on the sidewalk of Hoang Sa Street in District 1. Many signs for eateries have also reappeared. Doan Ngoc Hai, the district’s vice chairman, started the cleanup campaign in January hoping to return the sidewalks to pedestrians. His daily patrols had a significant impact, but he was asked to step aside in October when the district set up a new reactive task force that will only take action if complaints are made.

Four cars, including two diplomatic ones, park on the sidewalk in front of a hotel in District 1 the entire morning. On a good day of the cleanup campaign, they would have been towed away with a cash fine.

Four cars, including two diplomatic vehicles, were parked on the sidewalk in front of a hotel in District 1 the entire morning. On a good day during the cleanup campaign, they would have been towed away and fined.

Cars sit on their authorized parking space on a road in District 1, except for the blue-plate government car of the citys public order team. Locals said the campaign has become much softer and violators only receive a verbal warning.

Cars parked in authorized spaces on a road in District 1, except for the blue-plated government car belonging to the city's public order team. Locals said the campaign has become much softer and violators only receive verbal warnings.

Motorbikes take over the sidewalk outside a coffee shop on Hoang Sa Street.

Motorbikes take over the sidewalk outside a coffee shop on Hoang Sa Street.

Cars park outside the citys Stock Exchange. Hai has been praised for being strict with these cars, whether they belong to a rich business or a government agency, but his campaign was not popular when it shoos poor vendors from the street.

Cars park outside the city’s Stock Exchange. Hai was praised for being strict with these cars, whether they belonged to rich businessmen or a government agency, but the vendors he kicked off the streets were not impressed.

Officials from the new cleanup task force are now rarely seen on the street.

Officials from the new cleanup task force are now rarely seen on the street.

As the new task force only works until 9 p.m., a restaurant on Nguyen Trung Truc Street has come back to the sidewalk.

The new task force only works until 9 p.m., so this restaurant on Nguyen Trung Truc Street has spread back out onto the sidewalk.

Another eatery takes over the Nguyen Cong Tru-Pasteur corner.

Another eatery takes on the corner of Nguyen Cong Tru and Pasteur.

Once in power, Hai had ordered police in charge of the Mong Bridge to make sure food vendors do not invade its public space.

At the height of his campaign, Hai ordered police in charge of the Mong Bridge to make sure food vendors did not invade public space.

Tran Quang Khai Street. The citys chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said last month that its inhumane to push poor vendors away from the sidewalk, suggesting that the cleanup campaign needs a more proper approach.

Tran Quang Khai Street. The city’s chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said last month that “it’s inhumane to push poor vendors away from the sidewalk”, suggesting that the cleanup campaign needs a more subtle approach.