Wednesday, December 7 2016

VietNamNews

Pavement trading clutters Ha Noi

Update: October, 09/2016 - 09:00
 
Viet Nam News

People have been trading on the streets of the capital city for countless years. Many people who sell on the streets are breaking the law by doing so. However, in many cases it is their only way of earning a living.

HÀ NỘI – It may be illegal for businesses to encroach on sidewalk pavement, but it is incredibly prevalent

All over Hà Nội’s inner districts, one can see pavement turned into private business sites or parking spaces, especially in crowded areas like the Old Quarter, central streets, resettlement apartments, and schools, etc.

The most frequent offenders are food stalls or small streetside restaurants, since the owners always try to expand their business to available public space in pursuit of additional income.

On Đội Cấn Street (Ba Đình District), from afternoon well into late night, pavement becomes thronged with sets of tables, stools, people and, of course, their vehicles. There is barely any room left to breathe, let alone walk.

“These ‘pavement stalls’ only open from sundown. The owners have all paid informal “fees” to the ward’s authority to look the other way and continue operating,” explained a food stall owner. However, on record, authorities deny the existence of such fee.

Violation is even more serious in the tourist Old Quarter area: the so-called ‘golden estate’ evidently extends to include pavement. “A small piece of the pavement claimed for selling tea or parking can provide for an entire family. The pavement is truly our livelihood”, said Phương Dung – a resident at Cầu Gỗ Street in Hà Nội.

Likewise, the sidewalks on other tourist streets like Hàng Đào – Đồng Xuân and Mã Mây – Hàng Bạc get transformed into giant gaudy showcased of different goods for sale like shoes, clothes, and cosmetic products.

Street vendors/hawkers are also repeated offenders.

These hawkers have the most basic and portable means of livelihood—like a small cart, carrying pole and basket—making it easier for going from place to place at any given time.

The ‘chase and run’ commotion—with the runner being the street hawkers and the chaser being the enforcement force —is an unbecoming scene that loops over and over again to the great displeasure of many people.

“Shop owners do not welcome us, and the authority’s job is to drive us away; we have to be constantly on the move and on the watch. I am aware that sidewalk encroachment is illegal, but since we can’t rent a place, we resort to selling on the pavement,” Bùi Thị Loan, a street fruit vendor said.

For street vendors, their excuse is that they must do what they can to make a living – a very sympathetic justification.

Due to economic hardship and the seasonal nature of agriculture, certain workers have no choice but to come to Hà Nội during the offseason and earn their livelihood on the capital’s pavement.

Streets in the urban periphery suffer from the same issue, with the most serious wrongdoers being the auto wash and repairs shop. In close second are beer shops and restaurants.

Blocked sidewalks force pedestrians to walk on the streets, causing traffic jams. Despite nuisances, people are not too unhappy with the arrangement, since they can conveniently buy stuff, have meals or park right on the streets.

In 2014, Hà Nội implemented the program “Year of urban order and civilisation,” with anti-encroachment laws and a renewed effort to reclaim pavement high on its agenda. This program struggled to little avail

Difficult to tackle

“It’s hard for local authorities to carry out inspections after office-hours, so infringement continues ,” admitted Phạm Tuấn Long, Vice Chairman of the Hoàn Kiếm District People’s Committee.

“The law enforcement force in charge of pavement control is severely shorthanded; a local team usually comprises of a dozen members, while transgression takes place all the time. When enforcement arrives, vendors run away or pack up their merchandise. Once the enforcement force leaves, things revert to the way they were”, explained Vũ Quý Trung, Deputy Head of the Urban Management Office of Cầu Giấy Dist.

Currently, relevant wards’ people’s committees have taken charge of managing the pavements and maintaining urban order. At the same time, they are tasked with collecting tax on the area licensed to businesses—the very businesses that will encroach on the streets. This vicious circle undermines any effort to preserve order.

Authorities themselves understand that pushing uncompromising sanctions will disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods, and social grievances are bound to follow.

“To truly eliminate the problem, commitment and accountability are required of the local authorities. Law promulgation aiming at raising awareness needs to be done in conjunction with fair, transparent penalties, and the emphasis needs to be put on the former so encroachment stops voluntarily. Plus, authorities of all levels will have to research and revise current street planning”, said deputy head of the municipal Party Committee’s Publicity and Education Department, Trần Xuân Hà.

Citizens are also encouraged to purchase products at supermarkets or permanent markets, which will reduce street encroachment caused by peddling and parking. However, the planning of these buildings will need to be seriously —with convenience for the people a priority—or else it will not be effective.

Street peddling has been a ‘historic constant’ in Hà Nội ever since Thăng Long era. After 1000 years, its practices don’t seem to have diminished but in fact, its problematic fluorescence persists in defiance of official public policy and of the vision of a civilised, modern urban landscape.

The question remains whether it is now time for the old ways to be abandoned. — VNS


 

 

GLOSSARY

It may be illegal for businesses to encroach on sidewalk pavement, but it is incredibly prevalent

Illegal means against the law.

Prevalent means “happening a lot”.

The most frequent offenders are food stalls or small streetside restaurants, since the owners always try to expand their business to available public space in pursuit of additional income.

Offenders are people who break the law. Frequent offenders are people who do so often.

In pursuit of additional income” means “looking for extra money”.

On Đội Cấn Street (Ba Đình District), from afternoon well into late night, pavement becomes thronged with sets of tables, stools, people and, of course, their vehicles.

Thronged means crowded.

“The owners have all paid informal “fees” to the ward’s authority to look the other way and continue operating,” explained a food stall owner.

Informal means unofficial.

However, on record, authorities deny the existence of such fee.

To deny something means to say you do not know about it.

Violation is even more serious in the tourist Old Quarter area: the so-called ‘golden estate’ evidently extends to include pavement.

Violation means breaking the law.

Evidently means obviously.

Extends means “carries on” or “goes further”.

The pavement is truly our livelihood”, said Phương Dung – a resident at Cầu Gỗ Street in Hà Nội.

A livelihood is a way of making a living.

Likewise, the sidewalks on other tourist streets like Hàng Đào – Đồng Xuân and Mã Mây – Hàng Bạc get transformed into giant gaudy showcased of different goods for sale like shoes, clothes, and cosmetic products.

If something is transformed it changes from one thing into something else.

Gaudy showcased means to be displayed in a flashy way.

Cosmetic products are things people put on them to make them look different, such as lipsticks and make up.

Street vendors/hawkers are also repeated offenders.

Vendors and hawkers are people who sell things in public places.

Repeat offenders are people who commit the same crimes again and again.

These hawkers have the most basic and portable means of livelihood—like a small cart, carrying pole and basket—making it easier for going from place to place at any given time.

Something that is portable can be carried.

The ‘chase and run’ commotion—with the runner being the street hawkers and the chaser being the enforcement force —is an unbecoming scene that loops over and over again to the great displeasure of many people.

A commotion is a disturbance.

An enforcement force is somebody who makes sure that people obey the law.

An unbecoming scene is an unsuitable sight.

For street vendors, their excuse is that they must do what they can to make a living – a very sympathetic justification.

A “sympathetic justification” is an understandable reason.

Due to economic hardship and the seasonal nature of agriculture, certain workers have no choice but to come to Hà Nội during the offseason and earn their livelihood on the capital’s pavement.

The seasonal nature of agriculture means the way that in farming things are different at different times of the year because of the seasons.

The offseason is the season when people are not busy.

Streets in the urban periphery suffer from the same issue, with the most serious wrongdoers being the auto wash and repairs shop. In close second are beer shops and restaurants.

The urban periphery is the edge of a city.

Despite nuisances, people are not too unhappy with the arrangement, since they can conveniently buy stuff, have meals or park right on the streets.

Conveniently means done easily.

In 2014, Hà Nội implemented the program “Year of urban order and civilisation,” with anti-encroachment laws and a renewed effort to reclaim pavement high on its agenda.

To implement a program means to put a program into action.

An agenda is a list of things to do.

This program struggled to little avail

If the program struggled “to little avail” it means it was not successful even tough lots of effort was put into it.

“The law enforcement force in charge of pavement control is severely shorthanded; a local team usually comprises of a dozen members, while transgression takes place all the time.

If pavement control is shorthanded there are not enough people available for it. If it is severely shorthanded, there are very, very few people available.

A transgression means a breaking of the law.

When enforcement arrives, vendors run away or pack up their merchandise.

Merchandise means good that people buy and sell.

Once the enforcement force leaves, things revert to the way they were”, explained Vũ Quý Trung, Deputy Head of the Urban Management Office of Cầu Giấy District.

Revert means “go back” or “return”.

This vicious circle undermines any effort to preserve order.

When things happen in a vicious circle there is no end to things being miserable because so many things cause this misery.

Authorities themselves understand that pushing uncompromising sanctions will disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods, and social grievances are bound to follow.

Uncompromising sanctions are harsh, inflexible punishments.

“To truly eliminate the problem, commitment and accountability are required of the local authorities.

Accountability means responsibility.

Law promulgation aiming at raising awareness needs to be done in conjunction with fair, transparent penalties, and the emphasis needs to be put on the former so encroachment stops voluntarily.

Law promulgation means letting people know what the laws are.

In conjunction with” means “together with”.

If something is transparent means, you can see through it and there is nothing hidden in it. Transparent penalties are genuine punishments, not punishments that simply look like they are being given out but are not going to have much effect.

 Citizens are also encouraged to purchase products at supermarkets or permanent markets, which will reduce street encroachment caused by peddling and parking.

Permanent markets are markets where stall holders are present all the time and do not come and go.

Peddling means selling.

After 1,000 years, its practices don’t seem to have diminished but in fact, its problematic fluorescence persists in defiance of official public policy and of the vision of a civilised, modern urban landscape.

 

Persists means carrying on without giving up.

In defiance means against authority.

 

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. People who walk on the streets.
  2. A type of drink sold at shops that are the second-most wrongdoers when it comes to crowding the pavements.
  3. People who sell things in the street.
  4. The type of food that Bùi Thị Loan sells.
  5. The period of the day between noon and evening.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Pedestrians; 2. Beer; 3; Vendors; 4. Fruit; 5. Afternoon.

 

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