More street food zones in the making for downtown Saigon

By Son Hoa   November 21, 2017 | 01:43 am PT
More street food zones in the making for downtown Saigon
Two girls have breakfast at the second street food zone of Saigon on Nguyen Van Chiem Street in District 1. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran
Business has been booming at the first two zones, which were set up following the city's sidewalk purge.

People with a literal taste for the outdoors will be pleased to know that more street food zones are expected to open in downtown Saigon following the success of the first two areas and the need to keep the city's sidewalks in order.

Seven out of ten wards in District 1 want to set up street food zones, Tran The Thuan, the district chairman, said at a meeting Tuesday.

The new zones will include two on Nguyen Thai Hoc Street and one on Phan Van Truong Street.

Before the new zones are opened, District 1 will offer food safety training for vendors as it did at the first and second zones, which are located on Nguyen Van Chiem Street near Notre-Dame Cathedral and in Bach Tung Diep Park near Reunification Palace.

The first two zones are open from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The district administration has said it is looking at plans to extend the opening times for the new zones.

Vendors in the new zones will be selected from those who have been barred from selling their wares on the sidewalks in recent months in the same way as the first two zones, where vendors say they have finally found peace after years of playing cat and mouse with officers.

District 1 has been making efforts to clean up its sidewalks since February.

Led by the district’s vice chairman Doan Ngoc Hai, aka Captain Sidewalk, the campaign has taken a zero-tolerance approach to cars, bikes, vendors and structures that invade the sidewalks and rob pedestrians of their space.

It has been widely applauded by locals, but has also raised concerns for being too extreme.

Hai has been told by city leaders to tread carefully around diplomatic cars, and has also received death threats that warranted police protection.

City leaders eventually stepped in to set up a new task force that will only react when complaints are made, essentially undercutting Captain Sidewalk's authority.

The move was welcomed by street vendors who have been left devastated, with many seen crying and yelling when police or soldiers seize their food stands.

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