Revered as one of the most beautiful avenues in Ho Chi Minh City, Pham Van Dong Avenue has been transformed from a beautiful place to live into an alcohol-charged feast, taking up public space and causing deafening noise pollution.
Beer stalls and mini-clubs have even been spilling out onto the road, which runs over 12 kilomers through Go Vap, Binh Thanh, and Thu Duc Districts.
These establishments reserve sidewalk space as their seating locations, starting from dusk and continuing late into the night.
As of last Thursday, they could be seen blasting loud music, turning on flashing lights, and letting promotion staff engage with passers-by, all creating significant disturbances for commuters.
“The current state of roadway and sidewalk encroaching has been perpetuated for years, creating major disturbances in public order and traffic safety,” Nguyen Minh Hung, a long-time resident in the locale, expressed his disgruntlement with the operations.
“There have been many collisions between motorbike drivers and beer joint staffers.
"These places also blare ear-piercing music, and shine frenzied flashing lights onto the street."
As witnessed by your correspondent, the short segment of Pham Van Dong Avenue crossing through Ward 1 of Go Vap District accommodates more than ten beer joints of various scales and styles.
On top of the sidewalk-stealing seating, the places also draw in a significant number of street food carts which take up even more space in the street.
By 8:00 pm last Thursday, the street had already been jam-packed with patrons, the majority being young people enjoying the various nightlife activities.
Many could be seen smoking flavored tobacco with hookahs or vaping as they listened to electronic music.
As the night went on, the bars and sidewalks only got more crowded from new waves of customers coming in.
To make space for these newcomers, tables were squeezed into any remaining spot, while customers’ motorbikes were moved from the sidewalk to the roadway.
In the height of the alcohol-laden rave at a bar, the music was suddenly turned down, the tables hustled inside, and the hookah pipes hidden away.
A moment later, the bar owner came out to explain: “Police have just come to check up. We hope you understand and move inside for a bit, then the night's fun can resume till dawn.”
After the officers left, things went quite as the owner claimed.
The combination of the loud noises, the smell of alcohol, and public place encroachment here have persisted long enough for some residents to consider moving away.
In response to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Vu Nam Hung, chairman of Ward 1, Go Vap District, confirmed the public disturbance perpetuated by beer joints and clubs in the locale.
A neighborhood with spacious, freshly-constructed sidewalks, Pham Van Dong Avenue became the ideal destination for nightlife businesses.
The contending business owners, in attempts to eclipse others, equipped their facilities with DJ stations, strobe lights, and loudspeaker systems to appeal to customers.
Local authorities received multiple complaints about these operations from annoyed residents, but the issues prove a hard one to solve as the owners always find loopholes to shun relevant agencies, the chairman explained.
“As the trans-agency cohort went for inspection, these places cleared up their tables and chairs immediately inside, then resumed operations,” Hung said.
“A lot of facilities continued operations despite being fined multiple times."
As for noise pollution, Hung suggested an official assessment with specialized instruments, as they are the basis for the district’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment to make a case.