Saigon holds its breath as delays loom for $440 million anti-flood project

By Huu Nguyen   May 23, 2017 | 10:57 am GMT+7

The ambitious project hits a roadblock: land clearance.

saigon-holds-its-breath-as-delays-loom-for-440-million-anti-flood-project

Work at a $440 million flood prevention project in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong

A major project designed to control flooding in Ho Chi Minh City may miss its deadline of April next year as site clearance is not moving as fast as expected.

Nguyen Tam Tien, CEO of Trung Nam Group, which is developing the project under a private-public scheme, said 37 percent of the work has been completed.

He's optimistic that the deadline will be met, but conceded that it's taking a lot of time to relocate 402 affected families and 16 businesses and organizations in District 7.

There would be delays if site clearance couldn't finish by this September, he said.

Work on the project started in June 2016, with an investment of nearly VND10 trillion ($440.6 million).

It was first scheduled to complete in June 2019 but the city’s leaders have asked that the deadline be moved to summer 2018, saying the flooding problem must be resolved as soon as possible.

The project involves building a new drainage system and adding more pump stations that can keep a 750 square kilometers in the downtown area and along the Saigon River dry. Around 6.5 million people, or more than half of the city’s population, will benefit from this.

Ho Chi Minh City is vulnerable to flooding, and many of its streets are transformed into small rivers almost any time it pours or the tides rise.

According to local media, the city needs up to VND97.3 trillion ($4.38 billion) for anti-flooding projects by 2020.