Vendors, pavements in focus

Vendors, pavements in focus

Sanitation, design flaw issues aired

Pedestrians cross Burapha Road, as Bangkok governor and council election campaign posters line the side of the street. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Pedestrians cross Burapha Road, as Bangkok governor and council election campaign posters line the side of the street. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Roadside vending space and the transparency of procurement projects managed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have dominated the campaign agendas of candidates for Bangkok governor.

Democrat Party candidate Suchatvee Suwansawat said many people earn their living from street vending. They also provide a source of cheap food for city residents so they must be allowed to trade without having to worry about being caught by the police for illegally occupying pavements and violating sanitation regulations, he added.

They must also have access to tap water. Adequate running water is especially important for cleaning of dishes during the pandemic, he said, noting that some vendors he has seen only use a single bucket of water for this purpose throughout the day.

If elected, Mr Suchatvee said he would install more tap water points for vendors and streamline the garbage collection system and public toilets. He would also standardise the quality of street food in the city.

Chadchart Sittipunt, an independent candidate, who toured Ratchawat market in Dusit district on Tuesday, said street vendors should only be plying their trade on the city's pavements temporarily, as City Hall should find suitable spaces for them while also assisting with securing loans.

In addition, more details about the BMA's procurement projects must the disclosed, he said. Extortion or bribery by officials must be dealt with swiftly and there must be no loopholes with which to evade city taxes, the independent candidate said.

Sakoltee Phattiyakul, another independent candidate and former deputy Bangkok governor, led his campaign to Huai Khwang market on Tuesday where he said the street traders should be supported by the BMA so they can make more income and have easy access to low-interest loans after the pandemic eases.

Mr Sakoltee said many problems have stemmed from unfinished or delayed projects to repair roads and pavements. These problems are symptomatic of how contractors are sourced via electronic bidding, he argued.

On the plus side, he said, this method can mitigate corruption from price collusion by bidders. However, it can also lead to bidders submitting unrealistically low prices to maintain their competitive edge.

Winning bidders who tender the lowest prices often find themselves financially unable to see the projects through and are forced to abandon them midway, he added.

Also on Tuesday, Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a candidate from the Move Forward Party, proposed adopting aerial scanning technology to detect substandard pavements or poorly-designed pedestrian flyovers. The technology would help pinpoint structural flaws and should enable solutions to be accurately tailored and targeted to problem areas that need the most attention.

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