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Leader of Sidewalk-Clearing Campaign to Return to Saigon's Streets

Saigon's headline-grabbing sidewalk-clearing campaign is about to resume with Doan Ngoc Hai, the vice chairman of District 1, back in the driver's seat.

VnExpress reports that Hai, who polarized the city during his aggressive pavement-clearing efforts earlier in the year, is set to return to local streets soon. He will also be joined by Tran The Thuan, District 1's chairman.

It's been a roller-coaster few months for Hai, who became a household name after towing diplomatic cars and demolishing state-owned structures before being sidelined at the request of district leaders.

City officials have blamed a lack of both funds and the proper authority for the sidewalk campaign's apparent failure, the news source shares, but Hai differs.

"The sidewalks have been taken back because officials are worried what their superiors would think," he told VnExpress. "If we want people to trust this campaign, every single official has to be determined and not balk at getting into conflicts with their leaders or interest groups."

City officials recently released a proposal that would raise rental fees for businesses that use the sidewalk. It is unclear how this plan will interact with the resurgent pavement-clearing effort.

Meanwhile Dan Tri reports that Luu Le Bich Phuong, chairwoman of District 1's Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, shared at a recent meeting that vendors have returned to the streets and sidewalks because they can make a good living.

"The highly mobile sellers only have to work for a short time and they are not bound by various regulations," she is quoted saying. "They can open and close the businesses in a blink and make large profits. That's why it is difficult to persuade them to change businesses."

Nonetheless, Phuong asserted that authorities will crack down on vendors again. "The kiosks, chairs and tables will be foldable and the sellers will work based on designated shifts. We can't let dozens of them on the pavement at the same time," she said.

The news source adds that local authorities have drawn up plans to create alternative revenue sources for vendors, but they haven't come to fruition. For example, free vocational courses failed to attract attendees, while a proposal to create designated food vendor areas has yet to materialize.

Tuoi Tre reports that these vendor zones are expected to be located on Nguyen Van Chiem Street and in Bach Tung Diep Park. Nguyen Thai Hoc, Nguyen Trai and Dinh Tien Hoang Streets have also been suggested as possible locations.

The news source adds that the makeshift markets currently situated on Ton That Dam, Nguyen Van Trang and Co Giang streets will be shut down during the revitalized sidewalk-clearing campaign.

[Photo via Nha Quan Ly]

Related articles:

- Chasing Pavements: In Defense of Saigon's Sidewalk Economy

- Inside Saigon Official's Controversial Sidewalk-Clearing Campaign

- D1 to Organize Street Vendor Areas Amid Sidewalk Clearing Effort

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