A smart Saigon needs smart citizens: new city chief

By Manh Tung   June 1, 2017 | 07:54 am GMT+7
A smart Saigon needs smart citizens: new city chief
Ho Chi Minh City dwellers are stuck in traffic during the rush hour. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

Getting smart is the only way the city can solve its chronic problems.

Ho Chi Minh City’s party chief has urged the megacity to get smart with its administrative and business environments to make itself a more desirable place to live in.

The city has set goals to improve personal income and living conditions by solving four pressing problems – flooding, pollution, traffic congestion and crime.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, the city’s newly-installed top leader, said at a meeting with legislators last weekend that the city needs to build a smart government and smart businesses to accomplish these goals.

Nhan said the people themselves have to be smart citizens to support the administration.

“The people have to keep learning,” he said. “Each of them has to become a social sensor to reflect public dissatisfaction and contribute solutions to help develop the city.”

Ho Chi Minh City, the largest in Vietnam with 12 million people including migrants, contributed nearly a fourth of the country’s GDP in 2016. Its public budget income was 28 percent of the country’s total.

Despite its strong economy, the city is facing chronic problems that are preventing it from being an ideal place to live.

Pollution in the city is among the worst in the country with air quality often hitting unhealthy levels and domestic waste standing many times above the national average.

Besides daily congestion and rampant street crime, the metropolis is vulnerable to flooding any time it pours or the tides rise.

The city’s $440 million anti-flood project is scheduled for completion in April next year, and should save around 6.5 million people, or more than half of the city’s population, from constant flooding. But there have been concerns over delays as site clearance is not moving along as quickly as expected.