Thai Authorities Back Down Over Street Food Ban
The man behind Bangkok’s epic makeover campaign – whose comments this week spawned alarmed headlines worldwide about a complete ban on its street food – said vendors in the iconic areas of Khaosan Road and Chinatown can remain – under one condition.
The driving force behind efforts to clear the streets of stalls and return sidewalks to pedestrians since 2014, a chief City Hall adviser said exceptions made last month for the two tourist-dense sites remain in place, but every worker must register and undergo health training as part of a strong health-and-safety push. “The cooks and the waiters to those who clean the tables will have to attend training at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s health department,” Vallop Suwandee said. “They will all be barcoded. We will inspect them every day.” The training will cover topics such as hygienic food preparation, appropriate attire and waste management.
While the aggressive campaign that began after the coup d’etat has swept away street vendors across town, most recently in the Thonglor and Ekkamai areas, city officials made a rare concession to its appeal early in March when they said vendors on Khaosan and Yaowarat roads would be left in place.
Wallop himself who was quoted Tuesday in The Nation saying Khaosan Road and Chinatown, also known as Yaowarat, would be the next targets. The Nation story also declared a complete and total ban on street food would be put in place this year.
Wallop today said the two famed areas were up for “reorganization,” not an outright ban. He cited Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s satisfaction that CNN named Thai street food No. 1 in the world, and his desire it be better managed.
Wallop said the new health policies will go into effect after gaining the approval of Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang. Vendors in the two areas will soon be called in for a meeting, Wallop added.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s tourism minister has brought more hope to those who found themselves distraught over a recently reported decision to ban street food in Bangkok, stating that vendors will be able to remain as long as they adhere to stricter safety and hygiene requirements.
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s minister of tourism and sports, announced on Facebook on Wednesday that media reports which said that street food was being banned in the capital city were false.
Instead, she said the city is simply “striving for the sustainability of this significant feature of tourist attraction.” She specifically mentioned street food sales on the famous roads of Yaowaraj and Khao San, popular areas for both tourists and locals.
She went on to state that the governor of Bangkok has instructed “all relating departments” to discuss feasible solutions with the Metropolitan Police Bureau and its Traffic Division.
Wattanavrangkul gave a list of measures which are currently under consideration, including the strict observance of hygiene standards by vendors, food stalls which are uniform and have a “local identity,” mandatory training programs for all personnel dealing with street food, a mandatory test which vendors must pass, and special attention paid to dish cleaning and waste management.
“In short, street food vendors would not banned,” Wattanavrangkul wrote. “On the contrary, they would be supported and facilitated adhering to the features of tourist attractions as well as universal hygienic standards,” she added. Media outlets first reported on the planned street food ban on Tuesday, citing officials from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
The news sparked confusion and anger among locals and tourists alike, especially after the city had just been named the world’s best street food destination by CNN.
Many took to social media to lament about their “aching hearts” and the reality of a “less meaningful life” in the Thai capital, which is known for its delicious – and incredibly cheap – street food.
Bangkok Street Food Crackdown Deadline Arrives
Officials Committed To Removing Street Food From Bangkok‘s Streets
Bangkok Street Food Under Threat As More Vendors Told They Can‘t Trade
Bangkok's Street Food Named ‘The Best In the World’ By CNN