Scratching out a living from scrap – Thanh Nien News

Interesting story from Thanh Nien News today.  The article looks at three women who use a special tool to collect metal scrap from the streets.  Not only were they collecting all the loose scrap metal we see on or near the streets, they also collect the bent nails motorbike tire repairmen throw on the streets to ‘increase’ their business.

Normally I get a flat tire once a year.  It is always punctured by a bent nail.  The majority of flat tires are usually caused by bent nails.  Coincidentally, every time you get a flat tire, there JUST happens to be a tire repairman within walking distance of where you got the flat.

Seeing women like these collecting the bent nails is a positive sign.  I think I may just tip these ladies, or others that clear the road, about 10,000 VND each time I see them cleaning the streets.

Scratching out a living from scrap - Thanh Nien News

(Source: Thanh Nien News)

  • Craig N

    You only get one flat tire a year? Wow, I have spent only 6 weeks there, and I have had 3 flats that I can remember. 2 in Saigon, and 1 in Long Xuyen. The one in Long Xuyen was a thorn, not a nail, but still, 1 flat a year? Wow, charmed life.

  • Clifton

    Reading the article the most amazing statistic was the sheer weight of the “tire puncturing devices” these scavengers are supposedly able to collect each day. Forty-five and fifty Kilograms a day of bent nails, etc., earning $10 or more.

    Where are all of those sinister folks who are spreading all of these nails around acquiring them? Can it be cost effective to scatter these nails in the street? It might be more lucrative to just recycle the nails themselves.

    How much does a sidewalk tire repair person charge to fix a flat? I imagine that these scavengers are earning more each day than most tire repairers.

    When could a tire repairer possibly gat away with spreading these nails around in the street? In the early hours of the morning? It would be pretty difficult for anyone to get away with such an anti-social activity for very long I would think.

    For me the story just doesn’t “compute” although it undoubtedly sold papers…

  • JJ

    I had a flat tire and the dude patched it up for about 10,000VND. It was hard work too. He had to take off the tire, find the flat, then patch it up and put the tire back on in total darkness. All in all, it took a good 20+minutes.

    He also charged people 2,000VND to pump up their tires. That took like 30 seconds.

    I think that with all of the construction going on, nails and construction materials are all over the place. This was the same when I got flat tires in California while driving around the construction areas.

  • @Craig: I have tubeless tires which do better on the streets. You will notice that motorbikes with inner tubes are the ones that have to stop most of the time. I have just been lucky. I just changed my tires a couple months ago.

    @Clifton: 4 Years ago it cost about 5,000 VND per hole. Probably about 10,000 VND per hole now as JJ mentioned.

    These repairmen make their money when it gets dark. When people do not look, they throw down the bent nails. If they are caught by the police, they get into trouble but most get away with it. Most people here do not like these guys since the majority of flats are still from bent nails…

    @JJ: You got a pretty good deal. Some expats are charged 100,000 VND, yeah I met a couple. I normally get by with 5,000 VND. Oddly enough, I had some older repairman pump up my tires for free. One time, the lower motorbike stand got jammed on my tire and this guy fixed it for free, would not even take any money even though he spent 30 minutes on it.

  • JJ

    Wow.. whoever gets charged 100,000VND got reeeepppeeedd off!

    Usually, when I ask how much, they just say “however much you want to give”.

    I can vouch for the guy next to airport at the gas station. I can also vouch for the kid on Nguyen Trai st. next to the round-a-bout (next to the CityView office building.)

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