Vietnam/Covid-19 pandemic: Tens of thousands of people continue to leave economic centers to return home

Thousands of people pass through Binh Phuoc to return to their hometown after leaving major production centers, October 2021.

Tens of thousands of people have left economic centers in southern Vietnam to return to their hometowns in recent days, as social distancing measures have been eased at a time when the number of COVID-19 infections has dropped dramatically, the state-controlled media reported.

From Ho Chi Minh City, sharing his opinion with VOA, musician Nguyen Tuan Khanh, a commentator, said that people can no longer wait for the aid packages promised by the government but did not reach them. Meanwhile, Ms. Ngo Thi Oanh Phuong, a social activist, thinks it’s time to better appreciate the value of employees.

Newspapers and radio stations including Tien Phong, Thanh Nien, VOV, kenh14, etc… on October 4 and a few days ago continuously reported that tens of thousands of people have been leaving economic centers including Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai mostly go by motorbike, even some people ride bicycles or walk.

These people go back to their hometowns in dozens of provinces in the southwestern region, the Central Highlands, the central and northern regions, and the furthest is Ha Giang province.

The state-controlled media and many social media users publish many articles and photos about the tragic circumstances in which some people have to bike or walk hundreds of kilometers to return to their hometowns, including pregnant women and sick people.

A few days ago, the state-controlled media and social networks said that along the way, thousands of people had to take a break or wait for roadside disturbances, especially at the boundaries of some provinces and cities where the authorities find ways to prevent people from moving for the reason of epidemic prevention.

There are a number of videos circulating on social media showing people fighting with police or people burning incense to “sacrifice” the police for being blocked.

Information from the state-controlled media on October 4 said that the provinces were “supporting” people, and also raised concerns that tens of thousands of people “arbitrarily” returning to their homeland increased risk of disease spreading.

People burn incense and bow to the police when they are blocked from returning to their hometown in Ho Chi Minh City, October 1, 2021.

According to VOA’s observations, some people online compare that people are “running the epidemic like running away from the enemy” as a consequence of the policy of “fighting the epidemic like fighting the enemy“, referring to the blockade measures of the government which obstruct economic and social activities.

However, musician Tuan Khanh, who often makes political comments on social networks, said that the people leaving Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring production centers today is not “running the epidemic” but rather running away from the government’s unfulfilled promises, after having “joined hands” with the government to prevent the epidemic for a long time up to 3 months. Mr Khanh said:

During that process, they were tired of waiting for the results of the regime’s promises to support and help the workers who stayed. And people see that the government is not treating the workers in the spirit they promise.”

Citing information about a number of cases where people took to the streets to ask for relief or ask for transparency about relief, Mr. Tuan Khanh commented:

It has to be for a reason, it shows the story that the relief isn’t getting enough of the people. Obviously, we see that the state is not doing enough, that’s why it happened.”

As someone who has carried out many volunteer activities in the past time to help those affected by the epidemic and blockade, Ms. Ngo Thi Oanh Phuong told VOA that she observed the government’s support policies and programs in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai “are not organized scientifically, do not approach reality, are inadequate, do not bring peace of mind to workers.”

Ho Chi Minh City and other places that need workers should reconsider to change the policy to be clearer, have better and more secure policies for employees, said Ms. Ngo Thi Oanh Phuong

According to Ms. Phuong’s understanding, foreign workers in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai now fall into “poverty and insecurity” so they choose to leave these places to return to their hometown, Although he is also poor, he is not insecure when he has relatives and neighbors around.

On the other hand, the fact that workers leave production centers also sends a warning that it is time for authorities and businesses to properly assess the value of workers, Phuong commented. She added:

Ho Chi Minh City and other places that need workers should reconsider to change policies to make it clearer, have better policies, and be more secure for workers, this is the time to change wages and salaries. The quality of workers, unemployment insurance and social security policies must be improved. Promises and actions must be clear.”

At this time, the central government needs to pour money in to save the economic centers including Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai…, Ms. Phuong suggested. (Translated)


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