Whether it is getting rid of termites, drilling concrete, renting a house or a motel, or plumbing work, all you need to do is to call the number on the notice stuck on the wall of your house, the lamp post or many other public spaces in the capital city.

The easy access to this useful information, however, is not appreciated by many residents and city authorities who see it as a problem that has defied repeated efforts at finding a solution.

The mushrooming of illegal advertisements is resented by those who feel they give the city a dirty, tattered look, as also pose health threats when they are stuck in hazardous areas like transformer stations and even hung on electrical wires in order to make their removal difficult.

"We frequently remove the ads but it means nothing. New ones will be stuck again soon, especially at night or during the weekend at times when few people are around," a resident of Kim Ma street told the Ha Noi Moi (New Hanoi) newspaper.

Several crackdowns and measures by authorities have not been effective, at least not for long, officials admit.

The municipal Department of Information and Communications has asked telecom companies to recall mobile numbers feaured in the illegal advertisements, and this has been done, but almost all such numbers are unregistered, so difficult to trace.

The department said that while these measures have reduced the presence of the illegal hoardings and notices on main streets in the city, smaller streets and alleys continue to bear the brunt.

"While we want to solve the problem completely, what we can do right now is just a temporary solution," Tran Viet Hai, who heads a team of inspectors in Hai Ba Trung District, told the Kinh te & Dau tu (Economics and Investment) newspaper.

Under current regulations, each illegal notice can be fined 100,000 to 300,000 VND (4.7-9.4 USD), and this goes up to 200,000 to 500,000 VND (4.7-23 USD) for banners.

Advertisements carrying mobile numbers or addresses of service providers that are stuck on walls or electric posts will be fined 3 to 5 million VND (141-235 USD). For repeated offences, the fine will go up to 10 and 20 million VND (470-940 USD).

But it is not easy to collect evidence and identify the guilty parties because the illegal advertisers deploy many tricks, said Pham Duc Hoa, an official in Ha Dong district.-VNA