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Official signals ‘sidewalk clearing’ drive will be launched throughout Ho Chi Minh City

Sunday, February 26, 2017, 15:22 GMT+7

Ho Chi Minh City authorities will likely follow in District 1’s footsteps very soon to ‘reclaim’ sidewalks from vendors, roadside eateries, cars, and motorbikes, as indicated in an official’s proposition. 

It has become quite a ‘lifestyle’ for citizens living along the streets to occupy the sidewalks to run their business, Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the municipal Traffic Safety Committee, said.

More often than not, peddlers tend to encroach on city sidewalks to earn a living, and so do roadside diner operators, leaving both local and foreign pedestrians angry and disappointed.

Likewise, many people are willing to use sidewalks as their free car parking lots while motorbike riders rarely refuse to drive on the walkways to shorten their trips.

Drastic measures must be taken to clear the sidewalks and return them to pedestrians, Tuong asserted.

The remaining districts are strongly advised to follow in the footsteps of authorities in District 1 to take the promenades back to their original state, not only on major routes but on all streets in the southern metropolis, he said.

The official suggested a gradual process to prepare for the ‘sidewalk reclamation’ campaign, in which local authorities will encourage and remind residents to keep their business operations from encroaching on public spaces in the first one to three months.

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Officers pull down a construction that occupies sidewalk space in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Along the sidewalks that are over three meters wide, officials should divide them into two sections, one for personal use and the other for pedestrians.

The two zones will be separated by painted lines, Tuong elaborated, adding that those who cross the lines will surely be penalized.

“The one-to-three-month period will allow local residents to reorganize their business activities in a way that does not encroach on the sidewalks,” he added.

After that, he said, violators will be sternly punished, while repeat offenders will face harsher penalties, the official noted.

“Once the footpaths are ‘reclaimed,’ local leaders who fail to prevent repeat encroachment should be relieved of their posts,” Tuong said, adding that he would propose the idea to the municipal People’s Committee in the upcoming meeting.

Staring on Monday this week, a team of police and urban management officers led by Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of District 1, has applied assertive measures to penalize those ‘invading’ downtown sidewalks.

Right from the beginning of his campaign, Hai asserted that no one stands above the law and has since cracked down on any violator, be it public servants or citizens.

Hai has publicly promised to resign if this campaign fails.

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