Steps of state-owned building destroyed in Saigon’s ‘sidewalk reclamation’ campaign

The building’s owner had ignored a request to pull down the steps on its own

An excavator removes the steps of a building in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on March 19, 2017.

A building owned by a state-run company whose concrete steps had blocked the sidewalk on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, had them removed on Sunday as the city’s highly publicized 'sidewalk reclamation' campaign resumed.

The campaign led by Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of District 1's People's Committee, is about ensuring that pedestrians can walk comfortably on the city’s sidewalks and has so far brought about the destruction of multiple structures illegally built on pavements.

Hai and his team resumed their inspections on Sunday following a nine-day hiatus, during which the administrations of ten wards of District 1 were asked to carry out follow-through tasks in place of the district-level authorities.

As part of the latest crackdowns, Hai insisted that the steps of the building at 8 Nguyen Hue be destroyed as they occupied a large part of the sidewalk.

The building is owned by the Ho Chi Minh City House Trade Management Company Limited, a state-owned firm, and rented by Van Thinh Phat Group, a private corporation.

The forced demolition came after the building owner ignored a request by the Ben Nghe Ward authorities to clear the steps of its own volition.

On March 13, the ward administration ordered that the steps be removed within 24 hours, but the concrete structure remained when Hai and his men arrived to follow up on March 19.

The city official immediately called for an excavator to begin the removal work. Hai then ordered his officers to prepare a report, including all of the demolition expenses to be paid by the owner of the building.

Also on Sunday, the ‘sidewalk clearing’ team slapped tickets on a number of cars and taxis parked in the wrong place, including one car owned by a foreigner on Le Thanh Ton Street.

The car of a foreigner being towed away

While the campaign has destroyed multiple structures occupying the sidewalks, some have wondered why the steps and flower boxes in front of the City Hall remain intact.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper put this question to Hai and was told that the steps are parts of the City Hall, a century-old relic listed as a conservation site.

“The flower boxes have been allowed to stay there as legal structures because they are in harmony with the urban landscape and function as barriers for pedestrians in this area,” Hai replied.

“We don’t handle the City Hall steps and flower boxes not because we are afraid of getting into a conflict with higher authorities, but because these are all deemed lawful constructions.”

Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of the People's Committee of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Doan Ngoc Hai, deputy chairman of the People's Committee of District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

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