Amid a recent crackdown on illegal vendors in Taipei’s Shida Night Market, a group of local business owners and vendors yesterday renewed their pledge to maintain a clean and safe environment in the market, urging the Taipei City Government to prevent the popular tourist attraction from losing business.
Gathering in the market wearing raincoats and masks emblazoned with the slogan “we want to survive,” vendors promised to adhere to city regulations on shop signs, fire control, noise and air pollution to improve the living environment for residents.
“All vendors and shop owners in the area will cooperate with the city government and residents to maintain the environment. We hope they will take the chance to talk to us, because we believe that rather than closing the night market, we need to work together to keep it alive,” one representative of the group, surnamed Ker (柯), said.
Some vendors tore down shop signs yesterday as a demonstration of their willingness to work with the city government.
Calls from vendors to keep the night market alive came after the city government banned further expansion last year in response to strong opposition from residents, who accused businesses in the area of adversely impacting their quality of life.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) instructed officials to ensure businesses stick to strict regulations and new business applications are rigorously screened.
The city’s Department of Economic Development has instructed businesses in the area to address problems relating to noise, unpleasant odors from restaurants and issues relating to public safety, all of which violate the rights of residents, and threatened to suspend those who fail to obey regulations.
Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said part of the night market is classified as a residential zone, and according to land use regulations, roads less than 8m wide in residential zones cannot be used for commercial purpose.
Chen said the city government had sent warnings to about 60 shops and vendors considered to have seriously violated public safety regulations, instructing them to make improvements as soon as possible.
Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) dismissed local vendors’ concerns that the government is intent on closing Shida Night Market, saying that businesses would not be suspended if they improved conditions by the deadline.
However, Ker said it would be difficult for vendors to meet all the requirements in a short time without assistance from the government. He said the vendors would continue to talk to the city government and residents in the hope of striking a balance that would allow them to continue operating their businesses.