Public ignore stiff fines for littering hinh anh 1A Hanoian dumps garbage at the junction of Nguyen Cao and Le Quy Don streets on February 2. ​(Photo: 

Hanoi (VNA) - Regulations imposing stiff fines on littering and urinating in public spaces took effect almost a week ago (February 1), but most Hanoians are unaware of this, a local report says.

The Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper also said that the lack of awareness of new rules has been reflected in continued littering in public spaces.

Government Decree 155/2016/NĐ-CP imposes fines of 3 million VND (133 USD) to 7 million VND (313 USD) on those littering in public spaces, including pavements, streets or sewage systems in residential areas, especially large cities like Hanoi and HCM City.

Fines between 500,000 VND (22 USD) and 1 million VND (44 USD) will be imposed on those who throw cigarette butts and ash in no-smoking areas, including shopping malls and residential areas.

Those who urinate in public spaces and others crowded like shopping malls, pavements and parks will also be fined between 1 million VND (44 USD) and 3 million VND (133 USD).

The Tien Phong’s report said that on February 2, in front of the popular Trang Tien ice-cream parlour near the Hoan Kiem (Returned Sword) Lake, ice-cream sticks and packs were thrown on the pavement and the street despite many trash bins nearby.

On nearby Le Thach Street, which hosts many bookstalls, buyers discarded receipts and plastic bags on the street. Many pedestrians around Hoan Kiem Lake also threw empty bottles, candy and biscuit wrappers on the street and flower beds were strewn with the litter.

Of the 20 people that the newspaper talked to, just two said they knew of the new decree. Many people did not know about the rules because they had come into force during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, the report said.

Nguyen Thanh Tung, a resident of Hanoi’s Ha Dong district, who did not know about the new rules, said people were continuing to throw trash, cigarette butts, chewing gum in public spaces.

However, he felt that the fines should be imposed gradually, because the incomes of Vietnamese people remained low. It would be difficult to impose such heavy fines, he said.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, a cleaner with Hanoi Urban Environment One Member Co Ltd said “The Vietnamese feel no emotion on seeing rubbish. I’ve seen that when many foreigners see rubbish, they pick it up and put it in the waste baskets.”

Hoa welcomed the new rules, saying they would make her job easier, and raise public awareness about environmental protection and urban beauty.

According to Decree 155, chairpersons of ward, district and provincial administrations have the authority to impose penalties. Police officers, heads of police departments at ward level or at a border gate or export processing zones are authorised to impose fines of up to 2.5 million VND (111 USD).

Maritime police, chief inspectors of local departments of natural resources and environment and others of similar rank are also qualified to impose fines, besides chief inspectors of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, head of the Vietnam Environment Administration and head of Pollution Management Department.

Many people doubt that the new rules are feasible, the newspaper reported.

Phan Van Son, who was cycling around Hoan Kiem Lake, said there must be clear evidence for imposing such heavy fines. There must be cameras and supervisors, and these are not very easy to organise, he said.

Nguyen Van Nam, a resident of Hanoi’s Bac Tu Liem district agreed with the need for regulations, but felt they were too general and not clear enough. Who will be punished and who will do the punishing is not clear, he said.

Meanwhile, management boards of relics nationwide are trying to disseminate the new rules to visitors, given that large numbers of people flock to tourism sites during the first lunar month.

Nguyen Nam Nho, head of Soc Temple management board in Soc Son district, said they were not fining people for littering. They are still trying to increase public awareness and placing additional waste baskets to discourage people from littering.-VNA