Whether Hanoi should stamp out footpath vendors and street markets and expand supermarkets topped the agenda at a Public Service conference in Hanoi this week.

Many conference delegates said supermarkets play an important role in urban life, but if small markets are stamped out, other temporary markets will spring up, making it difficult for authorities to keep control.

This was not to mention the number of people whose livelihood depend on selling produce at such markets.

Under a plan to upgrade and develop the city’s market system until 2020, Hanoi would have 489 markets, 162 commercial centres and 178 supermarkets.

Participants also argued that footpaths in Hanoi have gradually lost their function for pedestrians. They are now used foe business purposes such as extensions to shop showrooms and food stalls and for street vendors, parking motorbikes or repair services, they said.

Professor Ton Gia Huyen fron the Vietnam Land Science Association said the city’s development is outstripping its management.

Huyen said the city People’s Committee’s decision to allow traders to use footpaths wider than 3m to do their business from September 2007 had created open slather with more than 2 million metres of footpath under districts’ management.

However, head of the Ministry of Construction’s urban development management department’s planning office Tran Lan Anh said many countries permit multiple uses for footpaths, just that they needed to be kept under strict control to ensure order and security./.