In a bid to improve safety and cleanliness the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said that vendors would be banned from the city’s streets by the end of the year, the Nation reports.
And the next areas to be targeted for cleanup: the internationally renowned street-food hot spots Yaowarat (Chinatown) and Khao San Road.
“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,” Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, said on Monday.
“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.”
The move appears to fly in the face of CNN’s glowing appraisal of Bangkok’s street-food scene, which voted it the best in the world for a second year.
It also runs contrary to a 2015 marketing campaign under the auspices of the Tourism Authority of Thailand called “Pray for Anna,” which extols the moreish virtues of Thailand’s street food.
City hall says the central district of Siam has been cleared by police and that Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road and the backpacker haunt, the Khao San Road, made famous in the novel The Beach, are next on the list.
Along the busy streets of Thong Lor and Ekkamai, notices were warning vendors that the deadline to leave the area was 1 June. But it was brought forward to Monday 16 April, after the traditional New Year holiday.
Along Thong Lor on Tuesday, almost all the street vendors had left. Next to the spot where a popular chicken broth stall was based, a new sign says permits to trade have been revoked.
Bangkok food tour after the street stall ban. My favourite chicken noodle soup spot: pic.twitter.com/Lb7jP07oIl
— Oliver Holmes (@olireports) April 18, 2017
One vendor, a 61-year-old woman selling coconut and pumpkin sweets, said she was allowed to remain as she rented space in front of a pharmacy for about £5 a day, rather than using public space.
“There is nothing I can do,” said the woman, who called herself Aunty Tao and said she had worked there for three decades. She added that for years, law enforcement had often confiscated equipment from unlicensed vendors and fined them up to £35.
There has been confusion about how the policy will be implemented. The area’s district chief, Boontham Huiprasert, said push-cart vendors who could move around would still be tolerated but larger semi-permanent stalls with seating would have to go.
“Or if they can find a place to set up their shop without obstructing the sidewalk, such as behind the railing of the Thong Lor police station or some other private building, that would be OK too,” he said.