For almost two years, residents in Hue have complained about the night market set up on the city's foot street that runs along the poetic Huong (Perfume) River which dissects the ancient imperial city centre.

Beginning in 2004, the street was free from traffic to offer strolls for sightseeing and relaxing in the most pleasant section of the river in the central city. At night, local residents and tourists enjoyed the beauty of the illuminated Truong Tien bridge and fresh air.

The street was also an idyllic place for art shows displaying calligraphy, portrait drawings and street music performances, until the city authorities rented the street to a company to create a night market in 2011.

The market, however, has made local residents furious because of messy view, rude services and pollution.

"I don't think this kind of market is the right choice to open on this street. It needs to be closed," local poet Vo Que once said.

The street is behind a row of magnificent French colonial villas. Que holds his club's performances of traditional music every week at one of the villas, but he does not lead his fans on walks after the music shows because of the night market.

He is among thousands of local residents who are disappointed by the market, which has driven tourists away from the street, as well. According to local guide Vinh Bao Huy, his customers refused to walk on the street before boarding dragon boats for a trip on the river.

Under the pressure by locals, city authorities recently demanded the company close the night market by the end of this year. Two months ago, they also wanted to erect nha ruong (traditional wooden houses with many beams and pillars) to replace the stands, in a bid to keep the market open.

They failed, however, to find investors, even being refused by the company that is renting the street, to build the houses. Thus, they reached a decision to close the market.

However, the company demanded that authorities continue operating the night market until the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at the end of next January.

The company also said the market operation had been interrupted for a month because of clearing the site for the festival of traditional crafts taking place in April, and sought compensation for the loss of business. It also wants the authorities to set aside a new location for the market to assist the vendors.

Hue authorities have not reached a final decision yet, but more delay on the closure would make them look indecisive to locals, who defend their opposition to the market so they might restore the gracefulness of Hue for domestic and international visitors.

Dissecting the city centre, the Perfume River is around 30km in length and owes its name to its path through aromatic forests. The river, with its shimmering blue limpid colour, is like a pearl in the sun. Dotted with rowing boats, the citadel, town, gardens, pagodas, towers and temples, the poetic landscape has long mesmerised travellers.

The ancient imperial city, which is making a name for itself as a tourist destination in its own right, is trying to develop the services it can offer to tourists in order to receive more income from this potentially lucrative sector.-VNA