HCM CITY — Migrants from rural areas trying to make ends meet against all odds are making it difficult for municipal authorities to deal with wet markets encroaching on several streets in HCM City.
Officials say they have spent considerable time and resources on this problem, but admit the "spontaneous" growth of wet markets has not stopped.
According to the city's Transport Department, there are around 110 streets in the city occupied by unplanned wet markets as well as other street vendors causing frequent traffic jams.
The Industry and Trade department estimates that there are around 175 temporary markets, established mostly in Go Vap, Binh Thanh, Thu Duc, Binh Chanh, Binh Tan and Tan Phu districts. The city plans to build five more traditional markets, but clear 37 existing ones for other development projects as it pushes ahead with an urbanisation drive that has no space for many disadvantaged people.
Clearing all spontaneous wet markets in the city is an important task for local authorities, city officials say, but offer no viable alternatives.
"Most of the vendors are migrants and do not have other jobs. Trading in such wet markets is the only way for them to earn a living. It's really hard to ask them to stop, but we still have to do it," Nguyen Van Luu, chairman of the District 10 People's Committee was quoted as saying in the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
He said district officials have been dispatched to ensure that markets that have been cleared are not re-established.
"Local authorities should also advise residents not to buy from these markets," Luu said.
However, reasonable prices, easy access and proximity to residential areas are the advantages that wet markets offer busy residents, especially those in the lower income brackets.
"Unplanned wet markets will appear in and around places where workers live, because only they can offer goods at prices that workers with limited incomes can afford," said Tran Duy Thong, deputy chairman of Tan Tao A ward.
Early morning and late afternoon, the ward has to send people to manage traffic around the Pou Yuen company that has tens of thousands of workers.
"We have higher authorities asked to build a market near here to meet the demand of workers. I hope everything will be improved then," Thong said.
But several critics of the city's efforts say that without long term solutions that account for the needs of the lower-income people and poor migrants from rural areas, the campaign to clear up wet markets is bound to fail. — VNS