Districts across Ho Chi Minh City are eager to replicate the success of existing “walking streets” and street food markets, while many fret over foreseeable traffic jam that comes with closing off roads.
A nightly cuisine area on Nguyen Thuong Hien street (Photo: SGGP)
District 10’s night time “walking street” starting from mid-December is expected to be the newest implementation of this trend in HCMC, with 49 souvenir and street food stalls opened from 6-11pm daily.
Meanwhile, plans to set up two new walking streets in District 3 had also been discussed at a meeting between local officials and Mr. Nguyen Van Nen, Secretary of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of HCMC Party Committee.
Phu Nhuan district also proposed a street cuisine area on Phan Xich Long street across several wards. According to Vice Chairman of the district People’s Committee Do Dang Ai, residents and local business owners had been consulted on the matter and mostly voted in its favor.
“The route set for this implementation is already an open and green space, perfect for street vendors to open up shops without disrupting traffic”, Mr. Ai stated firmly.
In reality, each HCMC locality has paid close attention to their own distinctiveness to promote pedestrian areas, such as how Nguyen Thuong Hien Street puts emphasize on existing local food stalls to reel in foreign tourists.
On the other hand, District 10 focuses on keeping its nighttime walking street “family friendly” by prohibiting the use of alcoholic beverages.
Likewise, the proposed Phan Xich Long street cuisine area will be promoted as a riverside tourist spot with a newly built inland wharf for marine excursions on the city canal system.
As a matter of fact, walking streets have improved regional economy in a big way, with increased housing and land prices across the board. Local establishments have also focused on improving product quality and services to attract customers.
However, there have been drunken tourists causing disturbance and public karaoke spots frequently playing loud music at nighttime in some areas, seriously affecting the quality of life for surrounding households.
Local authorities in District 1 also struggles to keep the peace around Bui Vien walking street due to large gatherings that take up much parking spots.
Similarly, across Vinh Khanh Food Street in District 4, street food sellers often encroach on sidewalks, leading to traffic jams lasting for hours.
Experts suggests that authorities should plan walking streets carefully around busy and narrow streets to ensure that traffic is not affected when the road is closed off.
By staff writers - Translated by Tan Nghia