Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble

Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


Trucks and diggers can be seen along Bui Vien as the city rushes to turn the city’s famous backpacker street in District 1 into a pedestrian zone, making it the second in the city after Nguyen Hue. Stages for music performances, surveillance cameras, security guards, free wifi and public toilets will cost the city an estimated VND13 billion ($572,300) a year.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


Construction workers are returning the street to the vendors by 5 p.m. each day, leaving them to clear up or cover up the mess before the first customers show up.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


Bui Vien will be reserved exclusively for pedestrians from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from July 15. The city said it wants to have better control of the popular tourist area, which pulls in around 2,000 tourists on its best days and earns the city more than VND37 billion a year.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


A woman covers the unfinished road with canvas and cardboard boxes before laying out her tables. She said she's been forced to cover up the mess because potential customers have been turning away, saying it’s “dirty”.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


A woman lays a small 'bridge' into her shop.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


This bar hires construction workers to cover the sidewalk with wooden panels, which cost nearly VND10 million ($440).


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


Sand bags are piled up as makeshift stairs into the bar.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


“It takes me more than an hour to clean this mess up every evening,” said a restaurant owner.


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


A restaurant owner waits for customers at 6 p.m. “Normally the restaurant would be crowded by now, but since the construction started, customer numbers have dropped around 30 percent.”


Show must go on: Saigon's Bui Vien Street stays open under construction rubble


Vendors say it’s not just the construction mess that is putting off foreign visitors; the drastic sidewalk campaign launched a couple months ago also pushed many of them away. The backpacker precinct is known for its street spirit. It is where all lines blur – between private and public spaces, between grill bars and sidewalks, between streets and dance floors.


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Tags:
Vietnam
Bui Vien
sidewalk campaign
urban development

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