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Painted manhole covers in Saigon hoped to increase environmental awareness

Friday, May 19, 2017, 14:54 GMT+7

Around 30 manhole covers in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City have been turned from cement and metal eyesores to exquisite paintings by a group of young people hoping to raise awareness of the city’s battle against litter.

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Old, hideous manhole covers on Hai Thuong Lan Ong, Tan Da, and Trieu Quang Phuc Streets have become relics of the past, replaced by scenes of fish ponds and nature’s beauty.

The project was initiated by Youth Union members from the district’s Ward 10, with fine art students from Saigon University serving as the primary artists for the campaign.

“We have ask private businesses and individual donors to sponsor the paintings,” said  Nguyen Ngoc Uyen Phuong, deputy secretary of the ward Youth Union,

“If we are able to raise more funds, we can expand the program to other streets in District 5.”

It is not uncommon for manhole covers to double as dumpsters in districts throughout the city.

“Since the covers were changed to art, people have stopped littering on them,” Nguyen Phuong Hoa, a 54-year-old street vendor on Tan Da, said.

“It is also relaxing to look at the paintings while I sell here every day.”

Architect Ngo Viet Nam Son said artwork and its contribution to the urban landscape should be respected.

Vo Thi Minh Hue, a psychological expert, believes the beautiful manhole covers, as well as walls featuring colorful murals, will encourage more walking amongst local residents.

“Residents will also feel the need to keep the street clean,” she said.

However, some are concerned that the paintings will do more harm than good.

“Many Vietnamese like to stop and watch anything unusual they see on the street.  These people will cause traffic jams if they’re distracted by these exquisite manhole covers,” one Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reader said.

Another reader believes that it is more important to have clean sewages and safe manholes than beautiful covers.

Below are some pictures of the new artwork.

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