Law enforcement officers in the ‘sidewalk reclamation’ campaign in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on Monday removed a chain barrier and several police-approved security booths in front of a local branch of the State Bank of Vietnam, before having the booths re-erected later the same day.
Both the chain barrier and six security booths in front of the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the central bank on Vo Van Kiet Street were built right on the sidewalk, and the institution’s representative failed to show the appropriate construction permits for them.
An excavator was therefore deployed to remove the fence, while members of the ‘sidewalk clearing’ team manually dismantled the booths, mostly built from metal.
However, the booths were rebuilt later the same day, after the central bank’s branch sent an authorized representative to discuss the issue with Doan Ngoc Hai, District 1 deputy chairman and leader of the headline-grabbing campaign.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Hai underlined that his decision to remove the facilities was justified, but he agreed to have the booths restored to allow the bank’s security guards to resume work.
A chain barrier is seen being removed in front the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the State Bank of Vietnam in District 1 on February 27, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
In backing his removal decision, Hai cited a government decree saying that if a central-level entity wants to build a security booth for their local office or building, they have to obtain permission from local authorities.
In this case, the central bank’s Ho Chi Minh City branch did not complete the paperwork with the municipal administration, Hai explained.
The District 1 leader added that every state building should have two security booths at most, while the central bank had as many as six stations for its Ho Chi Minh City branch.
“So will we have to accept if you want to have as many as 20 security booths?” Hai was quoted by online newspaper VnExpress as saying. “Once again I assert that I did nothing wrong [in requesting the removal].”
The restored security booth is pictured on February 28, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
According to the online newspaper, Dao Minh Tu, deputy governor of the central bank’s branch, had explained that the four extra booths were managed by the Ministry of Public Security, to tighten security for the national treasury.
“District 1 authorities had removed the booths without informing us in advance,” Tu complained. “We have called on Ho Chi Minh City authorities to review this case.”
The bank branch, however, was given a one-month deadline to obtain all papers needed to keep those booths, Hai underlined, adding that the bank is required to secure approval from the city’s chairman, Nguyen Thanh Phong.
Officers tell vendors to clear their carts from the sidewalk of a street in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City on February 27, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The ‘sidewalk clearing’ campaign has been actively restoring order to sidewalks across District 1, with Hai publicly vowing to reclaim the walkways for pedestrians or step down from his deputy chief post.
The campaign has won widespread support from local residents, who have difficulty walking, as most of the sidewalks are occupied by either stores and shops or illegally parked vehicles, both state- and privately-owned.
Local residents told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Monday that the chain barrier in front of the State Bank of Vietnam’s branch had indeed occupied their walking space.
“We know the fence was there to ensure security for the building, but it was blocking the way for pedestrians,” one resident said.
Also on Monday, the campaign officers removed a concrete block of plants and flowers in front of the SaigonShip at the Nguyen Cong Tru – Ho Tung Mau intersection, and seized some construction materials a store had put on display on the sidewalk of Ham Nghi Street.
Hai said his campaign will not tolerate any ‘sidewalk occupiers,’ even though they are needy people trying to make ends meet on the street.