Traders at HCM City market plead against closure

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018 08:00

A shop at the Sense City underground market in HCM City’s District 1. — VNS Photo

Traders at the underground Sense Market at 23/9 Park in HCM City’s District 1 are worried the information that the government will evict them to reclaim green space.

The city People’s Committee recently said it would redesign the park to make it a more accessible green space for the public.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nga, owner of a shop selling clothes at the market and one of the first traders to move into the market, said: “Since hearing that the city will reclaim the park, traders here are so worried. I have invested more than VND1 billion (US$42,832), capital I have not yet recovered. We will incur a big loss if the city acquires the park.”

Do Lan Chi, 62, who has two food stalls at the market, said business has been very good and she was dispirited after hearing the city plans to reclaim the park.

She said every trader there had invested a large amount of money in equipment and goods.

"My business has been running for one year. The money has not been recovered; if we have to move out, how can we earn a living?"

Nguyen Van Hung, owner of a stall selling pho noodle soup, said he had invested hundreds of millions just two months ago.

Nga said traders at the market had been determined to operate there for long and collaborate with the market’s investors to create a Vietnamese food and “civilized” shopping destination.

"[We] request the city government to give us some more time so that we have the opportunity to recover a part of our investment. After that, we will manage to find another place to do business. If we have to move out by April 30, 2019, many traders here will surely fall into huge debt.”

In the past the basement area had been abandoned for 20 years and became a place for dubious activities. Cuu Long Trading Investment Joint Stock Company and Saigon Co.op Investment Development Joint Stock Company (SCID) then invested over VND100 billion in building Sense Market.

It opened in March last year.

It spreads over 11,000sq.m, including 6,000sq.m for parking, and consists of the 1,500sq.m Asiana Food Town featuring nearly 100 street food stalls selling foods from various countries like Viet Nam, Japan, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and India and Taka Plaza with over 400 shops selling shoes and fashion clothes at fixed prices.

It also includes a convenience store, a bookstore and post office and foreign exchange counters.

Nguyen Thi Tranh, SCID’s general director, said “opening the underground market was aimed at providing a permanent place for hawkers who used to sell their goods on the pavement besides creating a destination for tourists.”

The market gets 3,000 local and foreign visitors and shoppers every day, she said.

“The disorder was only in the park while the activities in the underground market are very well organised.”

According to the investors, the city was reasonable in considering reclaiming the park since it was not used properly and there was disorder.

But it should consider maintaining the underground market and extending the existing services in the basement, they said.

This would ensure the park is developed in accordance with the city’s plans while at the same time its underground space is exploited efficiently, they added. — VNS

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