A month ago, Bangkok celebrated its designation by CNN International for the second consecutive year as “The World’s Street-Food Capital”. In parallel, according to the local newspaper “The Nation”, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is now looking at banning all the Street Food in a bid to “ensure health and cleanliness” for the city, according to authorities.
Two years ago, some famous street food such as Sukhumvit Soi 38 has been cleared out from food stalls, provoking lots of disappointment and discontent by locals. Last year, it was the turn of Siam Square and Pratunam.
However, despite Bangkok’s sentimental link toward street food, BMA cruisade goes on to eradicate all food stalls. According to the Nation, famous locations such as Chinatown/Yaowarat as well as Khao San Road would be cleared of vendors in a bid to beautify Bangkok.
Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, said yesterday that the internationally recognised areas of Yaowarat and Khao San Road would be the next target after they successfully cleared the pavements of food vendors in other areas.
“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. Yaowarat and Khao San Road will be our next goal in clearing out illegal vendors,” Wanlop said.
While Wanlop said he was grateful for CNN’s recognition of Bangkok as the world’s best street food city, he said cleanliness and safety in the streets were the BMA’s priorities.
“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, so there will be no let-up in this operation. Every street vendor will have to move out,” he said.
Talking to Piyabutr Jiuramonaikul, president of the Khao San Business Council, the Nation discovered that he did not know about the BMA’s plans to manage the street vendors in Khao San Road.
“There are more than 200 street food vendors in Khao San Road and they are the uniqueness of our district that attracts many tourists from around the world,” Piyabutr said.
Removing street food vendors from the pavement has also another negative side. It slowly kills the social fabric of the city. Food stalls with their plastic tools and light aluminium tables were one of the last remaining space where all Thai social classes gathered and spent time together. To force now people to eat in covered spaces -including food courts at malls- translate invariable into an increase in prices. With the consequence to marginalize further the lowest social classes of Thailand’s capital.
According to food aficionados, it also contribute to impoverish the great variety of street meals, which tend to be rationalized in food court to a dozen of common dishes.
Tourists should then hurry up to enjoy a last Pad Thai, Papaya Salad or a Caramelized Pork with a noodle soup in one of the street stalls. Before it is to late…