Those who agree with the sidewalk rental plan use the excuse of supporting street vendors or recognizing a long-existing sidewalk economy in Vietnam.
They even cite the example of several countries renting their sidewalks.
But few people have discussed the consequences of leaving sidewalk space for stores and other businesses.
I’m going to list eight reasons why this is not a practical plan.
First, it is not a financially secure plan. The city hopes to raise a large sum of money to invest in infrastructure, but I wonder how much money will be left after deducting management fees, cleaning fees, public order fees, etc. The city should learn its lesson from allowing cars. parking on roads for a fee, which proved a losing proposition.
Second, sidewalks are an important part of the urban landscape. They are the face of the city when it comes to attracting tourists and help improve the living space of residents. You must therefore think carefully before deciding to transform this space into a giant market. Look at Singapore. One of the first things the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew did to transform it was to move all the street vendors to markets and shopping malls. This helped build the clean and orderly Singapore we know today.
Third, a street vendor’s income depends more on demand, that is, the strength of the economy, than on the location where he sells. And if people buy more from sidewalk vendors, they will buy less from markets and supermarkets, which also need support. Vendors in markets and shopping centers could then move to the sidewalks, where rents are lower. Supermarkets and stores will lose revenue and pay less tax.
Fourth, public hygiene and order will be affected. You need to calculate how many new public toilets and trash cans will be needed to achieve the plan. If you haven’t yet imagined how dirty things can get, just look at the entrances to public hospitals where street vendors congregate.
Fifth, it is difficult to confirm that the people who rent sidewalks are all poor street vendors who need a place to make a living. I worry that some people will rent directly from the city at cheap prices and rent the space again to poor street vendors at higher rates. The objective of supporting poor street vendors will then be defeated.
Sixth, there will be no space for pedestrians since the vendors will surely use it all, even if they are asked to leave a few to walk around. Pedestrians may have to use the road. And if they face an accident, who will take responsibility, the sellers or those who rent the space to them?
Seventh, there will be conflicts between residents and vendors selling in front of their homes because of noise, waste and reduced entry access.
Eighth, developed countries allow sidewalk vendors in limited locations open during certain hours to specifically serve tourists; they don’t allow sidewalk vendors anywhere at any time.
For these eight reasons, I think HCMC should abandon this plan.