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Will Bangkok’s mission to clear footpaths ruin street-food paradise?

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This issue seems to come to the forefront every two or three years. Personally I think the vendors add more to the Bangkok experience than they detract . Particularly enjoy watching the Screw Boy staff grabbing a quick meal about 11:30. I suppose the following could be filed under: "we're from the government and we're here to help."

From Thai PBS World

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has been trying to solve the problem of street stalls stealing footpath space from pedestrians for decades, but with little result.

This challenge is a tough one because street stalls don’t just benefit the vendors but are also used by most Bangkokians. Street vendors, usually low-income earners, don’t have to worry about rent, so they can earn a living selling their products/services at very modest prices. Their customers, meanwhile, appreciate the affordability and easy access to food and products. All they need to do is stop off at their favorite stall on their way home, or to the office or school.

Street stalls are ubiquitous in Bangkok’s crowded areas. Foreign tourists are often fascinated by the diverse range of delicious, yet cheap street food available in the Thai capital. However, despite all the benefits, there are downsides too.

“Food stalls line the footpath leading to my condo, making it very difficult for me to get home,” a resident of Bangkok’s Udom Suk area told Thai PBS World. “I often end up walking on the road instead.”

Due to these problems, she has decided to throw her full support behind the BMA’s efforts to regulate street stalls. She insists that pedestrians should be allowed to walk safely on clean and tidy footpaths.

The BMA is planning to regulate street stalls by moving them to special areas such as hawker centers, removing them altogether, or ensuring they operate without endangering pedestrians and ruining state-built footpaths.

The plan takes the form of a new draft regulation currently being put to a public hearing that’s due to conclude at the end of March.

The draft regulation stipulates that every street vendor be registered.

To register, the vendor must be a Thai national with annual income of no more than 180,000 baht as per Revenue Department estimate, must have a welfare card, must be receiving financial help via the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, or be buying a home under the Community Organizations Development Institute.

If their annual earnings soar beyond 180,000 baht, street vendors will not be able to renew their license.

The BMA promises to review and revise the income ceiling based on inflation and the state of the economy.

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This looks like a needless exercise in bureaucracy, the rules seem unnecessarily complex. I can't help wondering if this is some form of brown envelope exercise? The Government is always going on about encouraging  tourism, and I would have thought that street vendors are a good part of the scene. I know that in Singapore, there are excellent  hawker centres, but that is Singapore!

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10 hours ago, vinapu said:

Removing street food vendors in Bangkok would be like removing gondolliers from Venice just because occasionsionally one of them pee or spit in the water

Excellent analogy!

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