Many historic markets in cities across Vietnam have recently been slated for demolition under projects to revamp urban areas, but such decisions do not always please traders, some of whom have been doing business for a quarter of a century.
Last month, the central coastal city of Da Nang worried local citizens and small traders with a plan to demolish two iconic markets and replace them with modern, multi-story trade centers.
The 23-year-old Han Market is expected to give way to a 26-story trade center; while the Con Market, constructed during the French colonial period, will be replaced by a 13,500-square-meter trade zone, the municipal Department of Construction announced on August 29.
The demolition plans will affect around 1,000 small traders, who will be relocated to temporary markets while the new structures are built.
Last Friday, the administration of Tan Binh District in Ho Chi Minh City also announced that it will tear down the Tan Binh market, one of the largest fabric wholesale markets in the southern city, and replace it with “a six-story traditional, civilized market.”
The new Tan Binh market is poised to break ground in May 2016, and expected to open to traders in November 2018.
The market, which fronts Ly Thuong Kiet, Phu Hoa, Tan Tien and Le Minh Xuan Streets in the crowded district, has existed for more than 50 years and receives 10,000 shoppers a day.
There are 3,336 booths run by 2,956 traders at the market, which sells mostly wholesale fabric and clothes to buyers who then distribute them around the country.
“We’ve been selling at the market for 25 years, and it seems we nearly lost everything overnight without being informed of anything in anticipation,” Thien Thanh, a trader at the Tan Binh market, said.
Moving to a new location means losing frequent partners and customers, according to traders.
The traders also complained that they will lose their booths at the market, which cost up to VND10 billion (U$470,677) each, once the facility is destroyed.
At the new venue, they will have to lease space for their business for VND150,000-400,000 ($7-19) per square meter for a 30-year term.
“It would be like people replacing my house with a new one, and then making me pay rent to live in my own house,” another trader named Trung complained.
If traders decide not to continue their business at the new Tan Binh market, they will receive compensation worth VND30 million ($1,412) each, which they say is “only equal to the revenue of less than ten days.”
Not informed in advance
Many traders said they are in the dark about the demolition plan, and the final decision came out of nowhere.
Some wholesalers told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday that they overheard rumors of the plan in 2003, but since then no one has been officially asked for feedback on the plan.
N.N.P had been selling at a leased booth at the market for more than ten years before he decided to spend VND2 billion (roughly $95,000) and buy the spot earlier this year, without knowing that the facility will soon be demolished.
“I’ve been doing business here for more than a decade but have never heard of such a plan,” he said.
Tan Quang Co Ltd, a Vietnamese investment-construction firm, has won the contract to develop the new Tan Binh market, according to the district’s local government. The company said investment is projected to be around VND2 trillion ($94.14 million).
But traders said it is them who will actually fund the construction.
The traders must pay their roughly-VND400-million store leasing fees between March 2016 and September 2018, before moving to the new venue in November 2018.
The total leasing fees are equal to, or more than, VND2 trillion, they said.
“Obviously, we are paying to build the market, not the investor.”