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Ho Chi Minh City alleys ‘invaded’ by autos

Monday, February 20, 2017, 15:27 GMT+7

While authorities are taking strides to reestablish order on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, its smaller alleys are under constant ‘attack’ by illegal parkers.

From erecting anti-motorbike barriers on its pavements to penalizing motorcyclists who drive on sidewalks, the fight engaged by Ho Chi Minh City authorities to restore order on its streets is getting more intense than ever.

But while major streets are quite often patrolled by law enforcement officers, the tens of thousands of alleys in the southern metropolis where many private residences are located are often overlooked and considered ‘parking havens’ for car owners.

At lunchtime on Saturday in a small alley of Su Van Hanh Street in District 10, four cars could be seen parked on the alleyway, which measures merely six meters wide and could barely allow two cars to squeeze past each other in opposite directions.

The alley leads to a condominium with a large number of apartments, and residents are often held up in congestion at the bottleneck when trying to access their home.

The drivers of the cars parked in the alley to avoid being fined for illegal parking on the major streets, according to N., a local elderly man.

“It was bad enough that the alleyway is narrow, but now they have started jamming cars into the alley as well,” N. said. “Where are pedestrians supposed to walk?”

Down another alley on Nguyen Trai Street, District 1, six cars were parked in a long line along the alleyway.

According to H., a local resident, the cars had occupied the alley regularly for the past four months, and sometimes the line would become so long that it would continue to the major road.

Irritated by the cars blocking the entire entrance to their houses, some residents had aired complaints to local authorities but the situation has not been much improved since.

As Nguyen Trai Street is packed with restaurants, coffee shops and fashion stores, its alleys are often utilized by customers as their parking space.

According to Dinh Gia Huynh, chairman of Phu Nhuan District’ Ward 7, his administration has organized many campaigns to penalize drivers who park their cars illegally in alleys, but the authorities often find themselves helpless given the overwhelming number of violations.

The situation is made worse by the lack of parking lots to meet the huge demand, Huynh said.

Meanwhile, Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of District 1, said the district would be taking on illegal alley parkers after it has successfully cracked down on sidewalk-driving.

“If we get tough on motorcyclists without doing the same to car drivers it will neither be effective in restoring order on the streets nor be fair for the citizens,” Hai explained.

According to Ho Chi Minh City-based lawyer Pham Van Thanh, those who park vehicles in undesignated areas may face fines of VND100,000-800,000 (US$4-36).

If their illegal parking leads to traffic congestion, they may be fined a maximum of VND1.2 million ($54), Thanh said.

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