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A determined drive against food stalls


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EDITORIAL

A determined drive against food stalls
By The Nation

 

The BMA is being lambasted for shutting down sidewalk vendors, but restrictions are needed

 

BANGKOK: -- A plan by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to ban sidewalk food stalls throughout the city has met with a huge public outcry. The groans are coming not just from the vendors and lower-income residents who depend on the inexpensive fare for their daily meals, but also from foreign tourists who view street food as a major attraction of this city, part of its innate charm.

 

The city’s efforts to “return” the pavement space to pedestrians has met with much praise from residents in general, even if it’s caused aggravation and financial harm for the street vendors who have to find new places to do business or shut down altogether. Most Bangkok sidewalks are narrow, particularly in the inner city. It’s entirely the fault of poor urban planning, the result of two centuries of letting residences and shophouses nudge close to footpaths, so that when the roads were inevitably widened to handle more traffic, the buildings were directly abutting.

 

Thanks to countless celebrity visitors and foreign YouTube bloggers with sizeable followings, Bangkok street food has been featured regularly and praised highly on the social media. Bangkok is renowned as a street-food destination, one of the world’s street-food capitals. However, the BMA this week vowed to continue implementing its ambitious policy of reclaiming the pavements for pedestrians. Vendors, it said, would be barred entirely from the streets by the end of the year. Reminded that CNN has singled out Bangkok as the world’s top city for street food for two consecutive years, Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to the city’s governor, said he appreciated the plaudits, but cleanliness and safety were the BMA’s top priorities.

 

The ferocity of City Hall’s intent has met with opposition and dismay. Major foreign media outlets have noted the widespread lamenting on the social networks and have tended to agree that Bangkok will just not be the same without its street fare.

 

In fact the food stalls haven’t been completely removed from the pavements. Many, along with stalls selling clothes and other items, have simply relocated a few metres, to space rented in front of shophouses, which is technically not public space, even if it’s part of a public walkway. Other food-stall owners have moved to nearby rented and roomier roadside properties and resumed business as usual. Clearly there are many others who will need to do the same, 

with BMA-designated markets seeming to offer ideal locales.

 

The thrust should be to allow enough space for pedestrians on pavements. Street vending must be completely banned on narrow sidewalks. There are, however, a lot of pavements in the city that are spacious enough for both foot traffic and food stalls. These areas could continue being shared between pedestrians and street hawkers.

 

The ban on roadside hawking should be relaxed in key tourist areas like Chinatown and Khao San Road, particularly at night when there’s less vehicular traffic. It would maintain the city’s status as a world street-food capital and a tourist draw. As is the case now, residents and tourists alike could continue enjoying delicious food at night from stalls in these areas.

 

The authorities should certainly take measures to ensure that street food is safe for consumers. Tourists occasionally complain about food poisoning. There must be proper health requirements and inspections. Also, licences must be required to run roadside food stalls, as they are in other street-food havens like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul. Today anyone can set up a roadside food shop if they have the money to do so, with no need to get a licence or permit.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/opinion/today_editorial/30312761

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-04-20
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I enjoy street food but the pavements are the to be walked on. There has to be enough room for at least two lines of people. One walking in one direction and the other line in another direction. So often I have to act like Indiana Jones to get from A to B. Many food stalls have people waiting in the middle of the pavement and you have to walk out into the road. There is often this attitude with food vendors that if they rent the little plot of placement, they own the area around it too. Big umbrellas places smack bang in the middle, etc. 

 

Police need to regulate the pavements better. Make sure they keep on top of keeping them clear. But they won't. So banning the stalls seems the only way to go. 

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Having lived in BKK near street vendors I find it easy to support the BMA in this endeavor. The street vendors throw their waste water and left over food down the sewer in what seems like total disregard for the environment and the neighbors. 

 

The drive to portray these vendors as part of the tapestry that makes up the neighborhood is the Thai style bleeding heart way of saying that they know they are wrong but look the other way please. 

 

The sewer system in the whole of Thailand is in disrepair and if these vendors contributed some tax money in some way maybe (after all the costs of corruption are covered) some of the money could find its way to fixing the sewer system. 

 

Finally, walking in BKK is a nightmare in most part because the sidewalks are used for anything other than walking and that is the main reason why I will not shed a tear if these shops have to relocate or simply close down. 

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1 minute ago, LazySlipper said:

Having lived in BKK near street vendors I find it easy to support the BMA in this endeavor. The street vendors throw their waste water and left over food down the sewer in what seems like total disregard for the environment and the neighbors. 

 

The drive to portray these vendors as part of the tapestry that makes up the neighborhood is the Thai style bleeding heart way of saying that they know they are wrong but look the other way please. 

 

The sewer system in the whole of Thailand is in disrepair and if these vendors contributed some tax money in some way maybe (after all the costs of corruption are covered) some of the money could find its way to fixing the sewer system. 

 

Finally, walking in BKK is a nightmare in most part because the sidewalks are used for anything other than walking and that is the main reason why I will not shed a tear if these shops have to relocate or simply close down. 

 

agree.

 

it's also worth considering that when not in use these carts and stalls are often left outside, i see cats, dogs, rats, insects crawling all over the carts, i have seen the wood blocks used for chopping wood sitting in the hot climate. i have never seen a vendor using hot water and soap or detergent to clean their cart prior to use, i have never seen a vendor regularly washing their hands as is the most basic hygiene requirement for catering workers. it's surprising more people dont get sick.

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I note that at least some common sense is being used. They are saying that pavements wide enough for food stalls and pedestrians can continue. The fun part is going to be deciding which are wide enough and which are not. That argument, I suspect, will go on for a long time.

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6 minutes ago, darksidedog said:

I note that at least some common sense is being used. They are saying that pavements wide enough for food stalls and pedestrians can continue. The fun part is going to be deciding which are wide enough and which are not. That argument, I suspect, will go on for a long time.

Easy decision. Brown envelope big enough, sidewalk is big enough.

 

Like so many initiatives here it will only last awhile and then back to business as usual.

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"....which is technically not public space, even if it’s part of a public walkway." :omfg: say what? How's that again? 

 Restaurants also infringe on public walkways. Brings to mind restaurant on Beach Road Jomtien that simply blocked off sidewalk at both ends (was open for many years, btw) and pedestrians get to tightrope along 2' wide strip or walk in the street. That owner has city hall connections had nothing to do with this, I am sure.

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In the Nimmanhaemin area, arguable Chiang Mai's most up-market shopping area, the footpaths have been taken over by antiquated non functioning telephone boxes, large empty advertising signs embedded into the concrete, dead trees, parked motor bikes, and of course food vendors who treat the footpaths as their restaurants. Walking on the road, risking injury from vehicular traffic is the only option. Although high quality condos, hotels, and retail showrooms are going up at a dizzy pace in this area the civic authorities are doing absolutely nothing about footpaths, drainage etc. Whether this is because of a shortage of money (unlikely), no accountability, or corruption, whoever is responsible for this unacceptable disgrace should be immediately sacked, never again to be given a job in the public service, and if appropriate should face charges.  

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I enjoy street food but the pavements are the to be walked on. There has to be enough room for at least two lines of people. One walking in one direction and the other line in another direction. So often I have to act like Indiana Jones to get from A to B. Many food stalls have people waiting in the middle of the pavement and you have to walk out into the road. There is often this attitude with food vendors that if they rent the little plot of placement, they own the area around it too. Big umbrellas places smack bang in the middle, etc. 

 

Police need to regulate the pavements better. Make sure they keep on top of keeping them clear. But they won't. So banning the stalls seems the only way to go. 

Let them back in and they will swamp the foot paths within a year and gradually keep inching their stalls inwards untill we are back to the same crap again

 

Give these squatters an inch and they will turn it into 3 feet!

 

The government knows this as well

 

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 "Today anyone can set up a roadside food shop if they have the money to do so, with no need to get a licence or permit".

 

Yes, as long as the brown envelopes are thick enough to satisfy the local plod.

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My local area has two that have completely taken over the side walk over a length of 12 metres or so ending at a T junction. At times you have to sit in the right turn lane even when wanting to turn left as the left lane is 50% blocked by pedestrians, parked bikes and other bits and pieces.

There is one drain in the road side where everything is dumped daily and in the hot weather you can smell it even inside the car. How anyone can sit in that stink and eat I can't understand.

World class street food. ?

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10 hours ago, rkidlad said:

I enjoy street food but the pavements are the to be walked on. There has to be enough room for at least two lines of people. One walking in one direction and the other line in another direction. So often I have to act like Indiana Jones to get from A to B. Many food stalls have people waiting in the middle of the pavement and you have to walk out into the road. There is often this attitude with food vendors that if they rent the little plot of placement, they own the area around it too. Big umbrellas places smack bang in the middle, etc. 

 

Police need to regulate the pavements better. Make sure they keep on top of keeping them clear. But they won't. So banning the stalls seems the only way to go. 

Totally Agree with you on this one. If it was regulated better they could still have the food stalls and the footpaths used for what they are supposed to be for. No need to totally ban Street food stalls all together, just regulate it better.

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Street food makes a mess of the pavement so you have to walk in the road as for Hygiene its non existent and god knows what contents goes into the food, so never eat anything from one of these places, but cheap Charlies like it so have to cater for them.

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7 hours ago, Chip Allen said:

One of the best things about Bangkok and the BMA takes dead aim. Typical.       In another ten years, Bangkok will be Singapore.

Ever been to the lion city, it will take just a little more than that

You have absolutely nothing to worry about

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I think everybody would accept these Malaysia/Singapore type of foodcourts with many vendors under 1 roof, certain hygiene standards, clean water and proper sewage. I can't imagine the same in Bangkok because the BMA will never provide enough affordable places like that, rents are just too high for that and I can't imagine them subsidizing hundreds such places all over Bangkok! 

Edited by longtom
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Well, to understand these changes, one must look at things from the government's point of view.

Since winter last year,  after the new minister of tourism took aver the office, the government debated lot on, not just how to increase the number of the visitors, but to increase the quality of the visitors. Well, it seems that they did lot....no need to mention all these. But what worth to mention is the aim of all that work is to increase state's income from this sector.

As many remarked, in spring last year they banned street vendors along Sukhumvit and that was accompanied with all the construction projects from soi 3 to 7/1 along with the constructions in soi 4. And now the ban of sale of street food. It's about "facelift", a make over.....

People talk about motorbikes will get more space, streetwalkers will get back the pavement. Well, that's just a consequence but not the purpose. My guess is that they want people (mainly tourists) spend money in restaurants. Let's face it the state doesn't earn much from street vendors...there are more changes coming up. Just expect.....

 

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9 minutes ago, cunningstunt said:

Unfortunately many TV members are on a super strict budget.

 

Sad to leave first world and end up on a tiny plastic stool eating out of a dirty bowl. No wonder so many balcony fliers emoji30.png

 

Probably going a bit off topic but a result of too easy unemployment and social security benefits that make people believe someone will always bail them out. They end up in Thailand initially with a few grand in the bank and a 25,000 baht a month income and after a very short time instead of 'sunday roast' at the bar it's noodles once a day at the street corner. 

Hence their defence of the street food system.

I've been here a long time and still don't like Thai food, that's me, not an excuse just a fact.

For those who like it, go for it, but let's have it clean tidy and not next to a stinking drain that has been blocked by old oil and scraps.

Back packers will say it's exotic, no it's not, it's cheap and not attractive.

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There is no reason why a well run stall that does not interfere with foot traffic cannot stay, and it is arguably a boost to the area, offering cheap food to poor people who may not have cooking facilities in their cramped condos.  I would also say that what applies at night might not apply during the day.  Nightime is mostly about play.

 

There is always room for compromise.  I get sick of these all or nothing arguments, where every issue gets turned in to a tug of war, when in fact no dichotomy exists.  Anyway, it seems BMA is backing off tourist areas.

 

 

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Thais can't even walk a short distance, most expats in Bangkok would agree that walking any distance in Bangkok is just too sweaty. So what are the sidewalks for if not for providing cheap food? Bangkok is a filthy place, even so, I have never got sick from street food in 30 years. If you love to walk, live in London, probably the best walking city in the world.

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Thais can't even walk a short distance, most expats in Bangkok would agree that walking any distance in Bangkok is just too sweaty. So what are the sidewalks for if not for providing cheap food? Bangkok is a filthy place, even so, I have never got sick from street food in 30 years. If you love to walk, live in London, probably the best walking city in the world.

Nonsense. Tourists agree it's just to sweaty. Or maybe your just an obese expat that can barely make it out of your room. Every expat I know has adapted to the heat and for those that didn't the last place to eat would be out in the burning sun.



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11 minutes ago, cunningstunt said:


Nonsense. Tourists agree it's just to sweaty. Or maybe your just an obese expat that can barely make it out of your room. Every expat I know has adapted to the heat and for those that didn't the last place to eat would be out in the burning sun.


 

 

Everything I know about Thais tells me they do not like to walk more than fifty metres.

 

Imo most farangs sooner or later learn that it is important to keep as cool as possible.

 

I lived in Bangkok for a good 10 years, was not obese, and never got used to the heat.

 

Getting annoyed about others ostensibly slowing me down was one of the signs I used to recognise I was getting hot and flustered.

 

There is some truth in most arguments.

 

 

Edited by mommysboy
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