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Firecracker village changes course following Govt ban

Update: January, 15/2005 - 00:00

Firecracker village changes course following Govt ban

(15-01-2005)

HA NOI — Following the Government ban on firecrackers in 1994, the people of Binh Da village in Thanh Oai District of the northern province of Ha Tay switched to other ways of making their living.

Villager Nguyen Xuan Khiem said that, after giving up the traditional craft of making firecrackers, he began transporting and raising poultry.

"My life is now much better and more stable than before. My wife and I have more time to look after my children, and we’re very happy," he said.

Khiem recalled that in the first two years after the firecracker ban, he and his wife, like many others in the village, found life harsh. They didn’t know what to do to survive. In 1997, with support from friends and relatives, Khiem was able to buy a motorbike and started to carry chickens and ducks to Ha Noi. On an average day, he carries about 100kg of chickens and ducks to traders in the city. His family also raises more than 100 chickens and ducks in their back garden and pond. In addition, Khiem also plants rice and grows subsistence crops on seven sao (2.5ha). Khiem said his family earns about VND1 million per month, a fortune for his family.

Khiem recalled that "10 years ago, the whole village was polluted by the firecracker production. As a result, the health of many villagers, young and old alike, was seriously affected by the pollution caused by fire-cracker production."

Binh Da today is totally different. The villagers are busy with other forms of production. Married couple Nguyen Xuan Vuong and Nguyen Thi Hong started their life together in 1994 when the ban was pronounced. Foreseeing a demand for wood furniture, Vuong studied carpentry and opened his own woodshop in his home, making beds, wardrobes, and other types of furniture that sold well. In December 2004, Vuong won the first prize in a professional skill competition in Binh Minh Commune which was sponsored by the Viet Nam-Republic of Korea Co-operative Organisation.

The prosperous new face of Binh Da is also thanks to the support of enterprises operating in the area which have provided jobs to thousands of locals and helped stabilise the economy of the commune. For example, the Binh Giang garment company came to Binh Da in the mid 1990s, giving jobs to 300 villagers. Each of them now earns VND 500,000 per month. The Thang Long sports equipment company, which moved to Binh Da in 1996, now employs up to 500 workers, most of whom are Binh Da villagers. The average wage of a worker is VND 800,000/month.

According to company deputy director Nguyen Van Lai, although the wages are not lofty, the workers enjoy stable jobs and a secure life. The poverty rate in Binh Minh Commune is presently below 3 per cent.

It is not easy for the Binh Da people to forget their age-old craft of making firecrackers. Due to the lure of a quick cash return, some households still secretly store explosives and make firecrackers. Recently, local authorities seized 14kg of explosives, 67kg of fireworks, and 20kg of sticks used to make firecrackers. — VNS

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