by Manh Ha
The other day, riding my motorbike through a friend s neighbourhood, I was hit atop the head by a watery slop of rice and vegetables being thrown from the third floor of some home above. I was shocked and surprised when I looked up to see a woman disposing of her garbage right onto my head.
She didn t even apologise when she saw what she had done.
But she s not the only one throwing trash away like this. Many Hanoians simply lean out of upper-floor windows and toss their garbage onto the streets below. Anything to get it out of their house.
Even on the street, food shops and transient vendors are seen along the pavement, and when people are done eating, they throw their trash away right onto the ground. It s easy to see that the capital is full of garbage. Trash everywhere you look.
Pham Thi Luan, a duster from Ha Noi s Environment Hygiene and Sanitation department, said that every night she had to clean the streets three or four times because of all the trash from residents nearby.
Luan said, "Many people are very selfish and don t care about us. We clean the streets; they make dirty. They think it is the natural order of things."
Luan must clean and re-clean 500m of Tran Khat Chan Street each night.
Le Thi Hanh said that dusting had become harder and harder, as more and more people were just throwing their trash anywhere on the streets.
Scholar Nguyen Vinh Phuc said that in the past, Hanoians behaved better toward each other. Parents always taught their children to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Children cleaned not only their own houses, but their neighbour s as well.
Phuc said that Ha Noi had changed as more people were moving to the city from rural areas, bringing their customs and habits, good and bad, along with them.
The city s People s Committee just published a decree on improving hygiene and safety for people living in Ha Noi.
According to the decree, the city would mobilise and encourage citizens to not litter on the streets and in public places.
Litterers would face fines of VND100,000-300,000 (US$5.5-17).
Many people agreed with this decree but they wondered who would be responsible for supervising and doling out punishments. If no one was responsible, the decree would be useless.
Deputy Director of the city s Construction Department Le Van Duc said that local people s committees should take responsibility for entrusting people to regulate the measures.
Duc said as many as 6,500 garbage cans would be placed across the city.
Nguyen Thi Nghi, from Dong Da District, said that it was necessary to change people s habits of littering. Local people s committees should give encouragement and tell everyone how to clean their houses, their neighbourhoods and the city.
Hanoian scholar Phuc said that it would take time to change people s habits, as they had been littering for years. It would be best if neighbourhoods would together fight littering by condemning people and embarrassing them when they threw trash in the street.
Phuc said that even though Ha Noi s population was not as large as some other cities across the world, it still suffered from a high level of pollution. Why couldn t Viet Nam fix this?
We can, surely, I think. VNS