Under the Saigon bridge which stretches out to District 2 and on the very edge of Binh Thanh District, small business owners gather to sell food and coffee and other wares to the hundreds construction workers at the site of VinaHomes Central Park. This area is buzzing all day long, providing a steady flow of food and refreshments from different sellers from breakfast through to dinner. The people here have responded with opportunism to the demand created by the construction site, which has shot up over the last year. This temporary community of people embody the efficiency and flexibility of the informal economy which can create temporary routines and structures without cost, damage, planning or resources.
‘Build it and they will come,’ the builders that is, with a host of street sellers in toe.
Waiting patiently on tiny stools at the side of the road, these street sellers have a collection of mens T-shirts shirts and jumpers suited to the construction workers of the site visible in the background.
At 5pm this Banh Mi Seller is still at work waiting for the construction workers to emerge. He’s taking up a late shift; earlier in the day you can find noodle soup and rice on this patch.
These two rubbish collectors collect all the waste left by the street sellers working here and sort through the materials to recycle them for profit. As such all the waste produced here is managed efficiently.
During the day the bridge provides shelter for a few pop up cafe’s where the workers can relax or catch some sleep during their lunchtime breaks. Always busy it accommodates a steady stream of people coming and going.
On the left a pop up noodle stall is setting up for the evening. On the right a woman is making a living from selling cold drinks from a small transportable cooler.
This area is soon to be home to one station of the new underground dissecting the city. It’s likely that in a few years the street sellers will be replaced by higher end shops for the people in transit from the city centre to this luxury housing development by the river. Regardless, once the construction workers leave, there will no longer be a demand for these businesses and the sellers will move on to another part of town.