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Saigon shutdowns sidewalk shops in backpacker area

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 10:19 GMT+7
Saigon shutdowns sidewalk shops in backpacker area
Foreigners place their beer on newspaper sheets on a sidewalk on Bui Vien Street in Ho Chi Minh City on March 16, 2014.

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have enforced a rule to ban all business operations on sidewalks in the Backpacker Area in District 1 in an effort to ensure public order and security there.

>> P1: Ho Chi Minh City backpackers’ town >> P2: The German who sells sausage on the sidewalk >> P3: Competition and opportunities in backpacker area >> P4: The three sisters of the “Pham Thi Family”

Under the newly-issued regulation, all sidewalk shops on Pham Ngu Lao, Bui Vien, De Tham, and Do Quang Dau Streets have been forced to shut down, starting from March 15, according to Le Thanh Tuan, chairman of the People’s Committee of Pham Ngu Lao District.  

Tuan said his committee had informed local people and businesses of the shutdown in a meeting held a week before the rule was officially enforced.

He added that vehicles are allowed to park on the sidewalk and local officials will consider allowing local inhabitants who have small houses or are financially poor to run their business in some parts of the sidewalk.  

However, Tuan said there is no longer space for trade operations in the area at night.

Pham Thanh Kien, chairman of the People’s Committee of District 1, told Tuoi Tre that they do not have any plans yet to arrange a night trade area to serve visitors to the city’s popular tourist spot.   

The HCMC People’s Committee had previously given a two-year license to Cuu Long Commercial & Investment Ltd Company to provide tourists with shopping and entertainment services in September 23 Park.

Differing views on the shutdown

On Sunday, one day after the rule enforcement, an expat posted on Facebook a photo showing some foreigners placing their bottles of beer on newspaper sheets on a sidewalk on Bui Vien Street instead of sitting in a chair to drink as they did before.  

The photo has attracted more than 200 comments in just a few days, mostly coming from expats and foreign tourists.

Some people said they love street food in the area so they might not come there anymore if their favorite street food is not available.

Others supported the government’s rule because they said it will give more space for pedestrians.

The photo was taken by Chris Dewaele, owner of Hidden Café in an alley behind Bui Vien Street.

Chris, who has run his shop for five months, told Tuoi Tre: “Maybe more regulations are needed in the area because sometimes there are a lot of chairs on the sidewalk, making it impossible for pedestrians to walk.”

“But some street shops are also good for the animation and the vivacity of the city,” he said.

The French man estimated that the number of visitors to the backpacker area now drops by 30 percent compared to the previous time.

Tuoi Tre

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