Hanoi parents take children to the streets to protest shopping mall project

Thanh Nien News

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Parents and students wave flags in front of Ninh Hiep Primary School in Hanoi's Gia Lam District on December 23, 2015. Photo: Hai Long Parents and students wave flags in front of Ninh Hiep Primary School in Hanoi's Gia Lam District on December 23, 2015. Photo: Hai Long
Thousands of students in a Hanoi district have dropped classes for the past few days as their parents protest a shopping mall project that they say will steal business from a local wet market. 
On Monday, more than 2,300 primary and secondary students in Gia Lam District’s Ninh Hiep Commune did not go to school. Together with their parents, they gathered in front of the local government office and some schools to raise objections to the new project, to be developed near the centuries-old Nanh Market. 
According to the protesters, the market's parking lot of 2,640 square meters will be handed over to the developer of the mall soon. 
Nguyen Kim Nha, a 43-year-old trader in the market, told Tuoi Tre newspaper that thousands of people in the commune made their living by trading in the market.
He said he would let his children to go back to school if local authorities stop taking the market’s land for the project.
Local education authorities then persuaded the parents to let their children go back to school. On Tuesday and Wednesday, hundreds of students return to school again.
Education officials said many children in the district continued to miss classes. 
According to the management board of Nanh Market, two shopping malls have already been built in the vicinity, claiming 583 square meters of land from the market. 
When the traders in the market heard about the third shopping mall project, they were very worried that they would lose their jobs and have to move elsewhere to make ends meet.
Hoang Anh Tu, the spokesman of Gia Lam District People’s Committee, told Tuoi Tre the municipal government approved the shopping mall project in 2013, to be developed by Vinh Phat Company.
Since then the district and commune authorities have held several dialogues with local residents for site clearance, but no agreement has been made.
He said the municipal government had planned to build a new parking lot for the market. 
He denied rumors that the market would be downsized or demolished.

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