Bangkok wants to scrap all street food by year's end

Bangkok wants to scrap all street food by year's endBangkok's city official said all street food stalls will be cleared from the city roads by the end of the year in a bid to bring order and hygiene to the Thai capital's streets, Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday.

"All types of stalls including clothes, counterfeit goods and food stalls will be banned from main city roads," Wanlop Suwandee, a chief advisor to Bangkok's governor, said.

"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," the local The Nation newspaper quoted him as saying.

Officials say thousands of street stalls litter the streets, create chaos and block pedestrian paths.

Since seizing power in 2014, Thailand's military junta has tried to crack down on rampant prostitution, street stalls and other informal businesses that have traditionally skirted around regulations due to corruption, ineffectual law enforcement and legal loopholes.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) order affects all of the city's 50 districts, including the famous Yaowarat and Khaosan Road area.

The controversial drive comes a month after U.S. TV network CNN named Bangkok's street food the best in the world for the second year in a row.

"It's impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok, where sidewalk vendors in different parts of the city operate on a fixed rotation" of breakfast, lunch and dinner, CNN said of the city.

For many, the roadside restaurants serving up cheap bowls of chicken soup and pad Thai are part of the city's charm and culture.

Street food stalls employ thousands of people and are a major draw for tourists.

"If they go against the vendors, that will affect business and it will affect the charm of Khaosan," said Sanga Ruangwattanaku, the president of a business association on Khaosan Road, a major tourist area.

Food stalls also bridge socio-economic divides, with everyone from business owners to taxi drivers sitting down at plastic chairs to slurp down a bowl of soup or eat a skewer of grilled pork.
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