Showing posts with label Street Vendors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Street Vendors. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Order threatens #Bangkok’s charm

Singapore has asked Unesco to formally recognise its street-hawker culture, which would help the island-state promote it as yet another tourist attraction. In Thailand, it’s a completely different story.

Prodded by the orderliness-obsessed military-led government, Bangkok authorities are determined to transform the city’s reputation for unsurpassable street food – or extinguish that reputation, as critics charge. The mobile noodle vendors and everyone else informally touting goods on the sidewalks have to clear out.

 The Bangkok Metropolitan Administra-tion (BMA) wants street vendors licensed, registered and contained neatly in designated areas well away from busy footpaths. It’s imposing military-style order in such tourist hotspots as Siam Square, Sukhumvit, Yaowarat, Nana, Khaosan and Chatuchak. 

 The push hasn’t gone down well with many Thais, including academics and urban planners, who regard the sheer chaos of crowded street-hawking scenes and especially the clots of food vendors’ smoky, aromatic carts as being among Bangkok’s premier attractions.

The city is being sanitised, the critics complain, while pointing out that foodies from around the world rave about the tasty yet cheap dishes they can slurp up on any Bangkok sidewalk.

“Bangkok is famous as the city of markets, but now many markets are dead,” said British expatriate Philip Cornwel-Smith, author of “Very Thai”, a well-received book exploring what is unique about the Kingdom. 

“Just to treat the markets with eviction after eviction actually does big damage to parts of Bangkok’s identity and its reputation internationally.”

French tourist David Lago, making his third visit to Khaosan Road recently, found it utterly changed. It was cleaner now, he noticed, but “boring”.

“Khaosan has lost that charm of being chaotically filled with street vendors. It’s empty during the daytime,” he said, adding that he’d be back after dark, the only hours the hawkers are allowed to set up.

A network of street vendors founded to push back against the clean-up effort marched on Government House early this week with a handful of demands. Many more attended a pair of public discussions about the ruckus coincidentally organised for the same week.

 One, called “Street Vendor and City: Leaving No One Behind”, took place at Chulalongkorn University.


 “The management of street vending is a complex issue,” Assistant Professor Narumol Nirathron of Thammasat University pointed out. “The BMA alone can’t handle it – it’s a matter for the national agenda. 

“To achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the government needs to handle this issue properly, by integrating the work of the Economic Affairs, Security, Commerce, Tourism and Sports and Culture ministries.”

Narumol and fellow academics from Thammasat, Chulalongkorn, the Thailand Development Research Institute Foundation and Urban and Design Development Centre plan to present an open letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha asking him to reconsider street-vending regulations designed to “return the pavements to the public”.

The government’s ultimate intention is to ban street hawkers in 683 areas of the capital where they’ve long been “temporarily” permitted to do business. As of last month, they’d been shut down in 478 areas, affecting 11,573 vendors in all. 

The BMA is gradually moving in on the remaining 210 areas and most recently has had Khaosan Road in its gun sights.

In their letter to Prayut, the academics note that one reason given for the cleanup was “to liberate Bangkok from a ‘disorderly’, ‘antiquated’, ‘undeveloped’ look. 

“In reality, however, a state of disorder – or order, for that matter – also depends on the management by government agencies, while an antiquated or undeveloped look has nothing to do with street vending. 

“In the US and Europe, known for their advanced development, the governments are allowing more street vendors to operate because the authorities are not able to create enough jobs [for everyone]. Thus, in pursuing the goal to make Thailand modernised and more developed, the government must not leave a number of people behind, as seems to be the case at present.

“Singapore is more advanced,” Narumol said. “It has a long-term policy to make the country clean and green and recently bid for Unesco to recognise its hawker culture as an intangible cultural asset.”

 Assistant Professor Niramon Kulsri-somba, director of the Urban and Design Development Centre, said Bangkok street vending could be sustainably managed and become “a win-win situation”. Niramon, an urban architect, is with her team redeveloping the Phaholyothin Soi 9 (Soi Aree) area with zones for street vendors. “Rather than top-down management, community engagement is the key. We need to get all the stakeholders talking so they can compare their needs and come up with a solution that will satisfy everyone,” she said, while admitting it will take time.

At the second discussion, “Negotiating Bangkok Streets”, held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Trude Renwick, a PhD candidate in architectural history and theory at the University of California Berkeley, said street-vendor culture was important for a “creative city like Bangkok”.

“Street culture is something that can’t be taken away. It’s an essential part of the urban and rural ecosystems in Thailand,” said Renwick, who in 2011 began making “Observations from the Siam Square night market” on her way to earning her master’s degree.

“Good urban change benefits all citizens and requires complex thought. Bans haven’t produced any positive changes in the past, so I have a hard time believing that it will be any different now.” 

Rangsit University architecture lecturer Parisa Musigakama has been focusing on the Khaosan situation for her PhD.

“Top-down governance by the state is infective and exploitative,” she said. 

“The Khaosan Road Street Vendor Association is very strong, with a powerful leader in Yada Pornpetrumpa, and their negotiations have reached the national level.”
In response to the petition given him by the marching street vendors, Prayut ordered the BMA and Metropolitan Police to establish committees to address issues with the vendors.

Unesco Bangkok director Hanh Bich Duong believes it would be best to consider the matter in terms of sustainable tourism and preserving old communities.

 “Properly planned community-based tourism might be a measure to address this dilemma,” he said. “It’s important to work closely with communities when planning for tourism, to hear their voices and see whether and to what extent they want to open up their neighbourhoods to tourists. 

“Fair-benefit sharing is another important aspect to ensure that local communities do benefit from tourism development, rather than being left out or being at the lower end of the supply chain,” Duong said. 

“In addition, awareness about the importance of safeguarding the heritage, both intangible and tangible, needs to be raised among local communities and the authorities alike to ensure that age-old heritage doesn’t have to give way to modern tourism facilities.”

Source - TheNation

Monday, 20 August 2018

#Bangkok - Khaosan vendors to ‘disobey’ orders from Monday

Khaosan Road vendors will resort to “civil disobedience” from Monday if Bangkok authorities do not allow them to sell their wares during daylight hours, a leader of the Khaosan Road Street Vendors Association said.

“We will defy the order and set our stalls up at the usual time,” Yada Pornpetrumpa said. 
The vendors are also planning to march to the capital’s City Hall at around 11.30am on Monday to seek permission to sell their wares during the day.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) banned street vendors from trading during daytime since August 1. Though the BMA is coming up with a new regulation to allow trading from 4pm to midnight, vendors at present can only conduct their business from 6pm.

 This time limit has meant a huge drop in income for daytime traders, largely because they have to hand their stalls over at 8pm to vendors who sell at night, Yada explained. 

“It’s like we set our stalls up for nothing. Now, we [daytime vendors] make only Bt500 or Bt1,000 daily,” she added. 

According to the 1992 Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act, vending on the street is illegal. However, since Khaosan Road is known the world over for its vibrant street market, the City Hall decided to draft a municipal order allowing vendors to take over the Khaosan Road footpaths from 4pm to midnight. 

Khaosan vendors, however, said this order would cripple vendors who make a living by selling trinkets to backpackers and Chinese tourists during the daytime. 

Source - TheNation

Saturday, 11 August 2018

#Bangkok - Killing the Khaosan goose

Tourists will desert the area, or even Bangkok, if daytime stalls are not restored, say visitors and street vendors

Khaosan Road – the backpackers’ mecca – has it all, from cheap T-shirts to elephant-print baggy pants, from tattoos to henna painting, from budget guesthouses to massage parlours and even tour packages to southern islands.

The world-famous Bangkok destination attracts hordes of international youth with offers of street food, beer and a chaotic, lively nightlife. Just about everything and anything is available at all times of the day. 

However, the municipal authority wants to bring order to the late-night carnivalesque atmosphere.

Since August 1, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has strictly enforced the rarely-used Public Cleanliness and Orderliness Act 1992, which forbids daytime street vending. Under the recent sweep, the street stalls have been banned from doing business in front of guesthouses, cars, cafes and shops during the day. 

City Hall’s plan only allows the previous daytime vendors to hawk their goods and services on the road from 6pm until midnight. The BMA is expected to allow vendors to hawk their wares from 4pm next month onwards. 

 The plan, however, isn’t popular with tourists and shoppers. The authorities are now working to solve this roblem with a public hearing to allow street vendors and store owners to air their views.

From around 9pm to 3am, backpackers use Khaosan as “party central”, rather than a shopping fair, vendors told The Nation on a recent night-time visit. Electronic dance beats can be heard blaring from clubs and bars. 

Along both sides of the road, carts and stalls are lined up, offering late eaters pad Thai and mango sticky rice. Several smiling hawkers offer “laughing gas” or a crispy fried scorpion. Local and foreign partygoers flock the street daily. 

“It’s my first time here in Khaosan. I’d heard that it’s brilliant and fantastic,” said Matthew Bechus, as he and a friend tuck into Thai delicacies at a stall nearby. “Now that the footpaths have been cleared, it’s sad. It’s a big tourist attraction and brings income for people and jobs and everything. I hope it comes back.” 

Russel Green, a tourist from South Africa said the new Khaosan was nothing special.
“If they clear out all the stalls, there will no longer be a reason to come to Khaosan,” he said. 

Green and his friend were “disappointed” while strolling through the area in the afternoon. “I would say tourists under the age of 30 visiting Thailand only come to Bangkok to visit Khaosan Road. Without Khaosan, they will have no reason to visit Bangkok. They will go straight to Phuket,” he predicted.


Under the new restrictions, Khaosan Road now looks like any other place in Thailand. While most of the 30-million annual visitors are foreign, not all choose to stay in the area’s hostels, guesthouses and hotels. 

Rujira Raokhekit, a Thai who came with her boyfriend, said: “I have been here many times at night for parties. I don’t usually come to Khaosan during the day, but I think today it is quieter than before.” 

The peak selling hours for vendors and stall owners used to be from 2pm to 5.30pm, vendors said. After 8pm, people usually come for food, music and beer. 

When daytime trading was banned, Bangkok officials allowed them to set up stalls from 6pm, which vendors say will only give them three hours to sell their goods. 

“After that, the music is too loud and the crowd is not in the mood for shopping,” said Sukwasa Kurattana-sinchai, who has been selling T-shirts on Khaosan since the Tom Yum Kung crisis hit Thailand in 1997. 

“Most of our customers are backpackers who came to stay in budget guesthouses. They often travel light and come here specifically to buy comfy cotton pants and sleeveless T-shirts to wear for their whole trip,” Sukwasa said, as she waved at a group of backpackers. 

She said that from about 8am until late afternoon, Chinese tourists would normally drop by Khaosan after visiting the Grand Palace and enjoy an hour-long shopping spree. Most foreign tourists visit Khaosan in the morning for souvenirs before their flights home in the afternoon. 
Most vendors believe that clearing out the stalls is a bad move. 

“The prices in shops are usually high, which is probably why the stalls are banned in the afternoon,” said another vendor as he waited to set up his bag stall at 6pm. “Now you see most tourists walking without any shopping bags.” 

If the ban continues, tourists will not bother to visit Khaosan, he said. “They won’t even stay close to Khaosan. Why should they? There is nothing to buy during the day. They could book a hotel in Pratunam or Bo Bae [two famous shopping districts a half-hour ride from Khaosan] and take a tuk-tuk to Khaosan for the nightlife,” he said.

Bangkok deputy governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul said after a meeting with related agencies on Friday that to help solve the problem, the BMA will draft a regulation allowing Khaosan vendors to trade from 4pm until midnight.

The regulation will includes pavement trading in nearby streets of Banglamphu such as Rambutri, Chakrabongse, Krai Sri, Sip Sam Hang and Tani.

Over the next 10 days, Phra Nakhon district will collect opinions from street vendors and building owners. “All vendors must register with Commerce Ministry. We will make it legal and transparent,” he said.

“We are trying to find the middle ground for everyone. The street vendors can’t have everything. They can’t expect to use the footpaths all day.” 

He added that the vendors must not block the footpaths and stalls can be no bigger than 1.5 square metres. 

“We will also ensure that there is one stall per vendor,” Sakoltee said in response to claims by Bangkok officials that some vendors owned as many as seven stalls.

 Yada Pornoetrumpa, president of Khaosan Road Street Vendors Association, said: “The officials don’t understand the situation of Khaosan. Many vendors trade in the daytime.

 “Ideally, I want Khaosan Road to open 24 hours. They think vendors are greedy. But actually, stalls could help look after the street’s hygiene.” 

Source - TheNation 

Ps, It go look like ''The hate foreigner tourists'' 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

#Bangkok - Food vendors fearful amid BMA move to sweep them away


THOUSANDS of food vendors are fearful about their future after officials from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) declared their intention to clear them off streets for the sake of cleanliness.

For three decades everyone from police and builders, to street cleaners and partying rich kids have gorged on noodles at Uncle Pan’s street-side stall in Bangkok’s chic-est neighbourhood. 
But now the 67-year-old food vendor is no longer welcome at his pavement spot, amid a purge of food stalls by the city governor, who says they clutter up the capital’s curbs. With dishes that average Bt35-55 a plate, most of the city’s kerbside cooks don’t make a fortune selling their fare, which ranges from grilled seafood skewers to somtam. 
But they have won global acclaim as some of the finest fast food chefs in the world, fuelling a booming city besotted by eating.
The family-run stall is a fixture of a neighbourhood that has exploded with development over the past few decades. But with the deadline to clear off the street expiring this week, Pan must either uproot his restaurant to a new locale or downsize so it doesn’t spill onto the sidewalk.
“I’ve been selling here since there was nothing,” the genial, apron-wearing uncle told AFP, explaining that the Thong Lor area was a tree-studded backwater when he first set up.
Today, his customers sit ringside to a central artery of Bangkok’s ritziest neighbourhood, lined with tower blocks, upscale restaurants and nightclubs. That makes for a varied clientele that pulls from all layers of the social fabric. 
“Office workers, police, soldiers... even if they drive a Mercedes-Benz, they have the same right to eat here,” Pan said, wiping away a bead of sweat as waiters buzzed around him to serve an after-work crush.
Good business, which sees Pan rake in around Bt30,000 a month, rests on these close ties to the neighbourhood.
“We all know each other in this street. Everyone, factory workers, company staff, they know me and we are friends... if we move, we won’t have these relationships.”
Yet city officials insist the footpaths must be “returned to the public” and have laid out a plan to bar tens of thousands of street stalls from main roads, instead squeezing them into side-streets or hawkers’ centres. 
Wanlop Suwandee, the Bangkok governor’s chief adviser, said local residents wanted to reclaim their pavements, so the BMA had to undertake a tough task to do just that.
“After the successful mission [to reclaim] several areas such as Siam Square and Pratunam, the BMA will manage the area in Bang Lamphu, as the next target,” Wanlop said.
“For areas that have already been managed, there will be strict law enforcement to prevent illegal vendors from returning to those areas. And if anyone finds illegal vendors, they can contact BMA officers to deal with |immediately.” 
He said this operation stemmed from many complaints sent to the BMA from local people, who were inconvenienced by being unable to walk on pavements occupied by street vendors. So, the city’s administrators had to take action and get street vendors to move into markets, where space was provided for them.
“City Hall used to allow these street vendors to legally sell [food] on the street in the specific areas, but since the city is growing, these areas where street vendors were allowed have to be revoked – to return the space because of the increased urban population,” he said.
However, workers such as Pan, whose lives look set to be greatly affected, are not sure what the future holds – other than more bowls of soup. 
“Even though we sometimes face troubles we have to keep selling. We have to fight to survive,” he said.




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

BMA bans all street food across #Bangkok this year


Despite international acclaim, Yaowarat and Khao San Road next targets of cleanup

STREET FOOD vendors will disappear from Bangkok by the end of the year in the interests of cleanliness, safety and order, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) says.
In the capital, which is internationally recognised for its street food, famous locations such as Chinatown/Yaowarat and Khao San Road would be cleared of vendors in a bid to beautify Bangkok.
 A month after the city was named the finest street food destination in the world by CNN for the second year, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) continued its operation to reclaim the pavements for pedestrians and announced that vendors would be banned entirely from the capital’s streets.
 The CNN report said that “it is impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation. It said that some take care of the breakfast crowd with sweet soymilk and bean curd, others dish up fragrant rice and poached chicken for lunch. The late-night crowd offers everything from phad thai noodles to grilled satay”.
Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, said yesterday that the internationally recognised areas of Yaowarat and Khao San Road would be the next target after they successfully cleared the pavements of food vendors in areas such as Siam Square, Pratunam, and the flea market under Phra Phuttayotfa Bridge.
“The BMA is now working to get rid of the street vendors from all 50 districts of Bangkok and return the pavements to the pedestrians. Yaowarat and Khao San Road will be our next goal in clearing out illegal vendors,” Wanlop said.
‘No exceptions’
While Wanlop said he was grateful for CNN’s recognition of Bangkok as the world’s best street food city, he said cleanliness and safety in the streets were the BMA’s priorities.
“The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them with space to sell food and other products legally in the market, so there will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out,” he said.
Piyabutr Jiuramonaikul, president of the Khao San Business Council, said he did not know about the BMA’s plans to manage the street vendors in Khao San Road and there would have to be further discussions with the city authority.
“There are more than 200 street food vendors in Khao San Road and they are the uniqueness of our district that attracts many tourists from around the world,” Piyabutr said.
Bangkok resident Romdheera Phruetchon said that while she agreed with the BMA’s efforts to create clean and tidy pavements, this could coexist with the preservation of city’s world-famous street food.
“The BMA should set up a zone for the street vendors, so they can keep their jobs and preserve the charm of Bangkok’s street food,” said Romdheera. “The people can benefit from selling goods, while the tourists can enjoy the unique street food of our city.”