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Saigon serves up second licensed street food zone

Saigon opened its second street food zone in Bach Tung Diep Park near Reunification Palace on Monday a month after the first one came to life on Nguyen Van Chiem Street behind the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Unlike the first zone which only serves takeaway food, the area at Bach Tung Diep has tables and benches for customers to sit down and have their meals.

There are currently 30 vendors selling food from 15 stalls in the new zone from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The zone is dedicated exclusively for low-income vendors who do not have to pay a fee to sell their goods.

A vendor named Nguyen Van Dau said his family has been selling noodles on the sidewalk of Hai Ba Trung Street for years but since the city’s cleanup campaign started, they’ve been worried that officers could show up and seize their stall at any time.

“It’s so good to be here,” he told VnExpress. “Now we have a legal place to do business and we don’t have to pay any fees. I heard that people have earned quite well in Nguyen Van Chiem, so I’ve got high hopes for our business here.” 

Before opening its second street food zone, District 1 also offered food safety training for vendors as it did in the first zone. Authorities said health inspectors would check the two sites regularly to ensure the food quality there.

The opening of these street food zones is part of the district’s acclaimed efforts to clean up its sidewalks.

The campaign, started in February, is taking a zero-tolerance approach to cars, bikes, vendors and structures that invade the sidewalks and rob pedestrians of their space.

Led by the district’s vice chairman, Doan Ngoc Hai, it has been widely applauded by locals, but it has also raised concerns for being too extreme. Street vendors across District 1 are possibly the unhappiest and have been seen crying and yelling when police seize their food stands.


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