The woman rushed out of the fashion store and yelled “You can’t park here” when Trong Dung was driving around looking for a roadside parking spot.
Pissed off with her bossy attitude, he disregarded her and parked right in front of the store, and sat down at an iced-tea street shop right next to it.
He said he had originally intended to park in front of a bakery a few buildings away until she annoyed him.
Meanwhile, the infuriated woman walked to a local market and bought two jars of shrimp paste, intending to dump them on his vehicle.
She paced around the car for a while before changing her mind and dumping the shrimp paste on a tree root instead.
Trong Dung’s car parked in front of a street vendor selling refreshments and a fashion store in Lang Son Province, September 2022. Photo courtesy of Dung
Lang Son Town, where the incident occurred earlier this month, is six times the size of Hanoi’s Cau Giay District but has just two-thirds the population.
Not surprisingly Nguyen Duc Ngoc, who lives in Cau Giay, has parking problems on a daily basis.
The first thing the 34-year-old does before traveling anywhere is to check if there is parking space available there.
He says that often he cannot park on the roadside despite there being no ‘No Parking’ sign. If he tries to do so, someone would run out of a store and shoo him away, some even yelling or cursing.
Some places put up their own signs prohibiting parking in front of their premises.
Minh Duc says, “Taxi drivers like me are the ones who struggle with this problem the most.”
Often in the downtown area, a security guard from a store would tell him not to park even before he can drop a passenger off.
On a social networking forum for automobile drivers with one million members, there are hundreds of posts about the agony of finding parking space in densely populated urban areas.
Some lament about being insulted and chased away with brooms by shop owners, others have vehicles spray-painted or shrimp paste dumped on them.
Nguyen Thi Hang, 41, who has been selling iced tea on the street in Cau Giay, says she has been “mad” many times because someone parked their car in front of her shop from early in the morning to late at night.
“It is not like I want to be rude but they do not listen when I tell nicely,” she says, placing two plastic tools in front of her shop so that cars cannot park there. She has to pay VND500,000 ($21) a month as rent for the space.
Trieu Hung, 51, who runs a fashion store in Hanoi’s Dong Da District, also says the front is vital for doing business. So his security guard must constantly show customers coming in cars to his store where to park.
“Often there are quarrels between shops over parking.”
Last year a 26-year-old man was sentenced to 12 years in prison following a parking disagreement in Dong Da District. He tried to park in front of a woman’s house, the two argued, and he got into the car to drive away when the owner approached and climbed on the hood.
He drove away nevertheless, and the woman fell on the road and was badly injured.
The struggle over parking is a result of the increase in number of private vehicles without a commensurate increase in infrastructure.
Parking lots and other designated parking areas in the inner city can only accommodate around 10% of vehicles, and the remaining 90% are parked on streets and in walkways, school yards and hospitals, according to the Hanoi Department of Transport.
Parked cars take up road space of Dinh Nup Street, Hanoi’s Cau Giay District, Sept. 16, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Nga
In HCMC, Dr Vu Anh Tuan, director of the Viet Duc Transportation Research Center, says the city center only meets 30% of the demand for parking space.
Construction of parking lots has been tardy.
In Hanoi, only 57 of more than 100 under consideration have been completed.
In downtown HCMC, four underground lots with a total capacity of 6,300 cars and 4,000 motorbikes have remained on paper for more than a decade.
Tuan blames the scarcity of parking space on poor planning and administration.
Besides creating centralized parking locations, traffic authorities also need to decide which spots are available for free and paid parking and where people would face fines for unlawful parking, he says.
He also advocates development of public transportation to minimize the use of private vehicles.
Meanwhile, with no way to avoid the battle for parking space, Ngoc in Cau Giay is beginning to regret his decision to buy a car in the first place.
“If a person travels out of town frequently, then I would recommend they buy a car. Otherwise, I think people should spend their money on other things since find parking space in the inner city is a stressful business.”
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