25 years of construction delays freezes Saigon peninsula in a time warp

By Quynh Tran   August 23, 2017 | 08:30 pm PT
Across the Saigon River, paddy fields and fish ponds are still a way of life.

Thanh Da Peninsula in Binh Thanh District is bordered by the Saigon River and the Thanh Da Canal. It has been left behind by the rapid urbanization across the rest of the city as a residential project approved in 1992 has never materialized.


The city's government has approved new investors on several occasions, but the project remains in limbo. According to the latest plan set in 2015, an urban residential project will be developed over 450 hectares (over 1,100 acres) to house 45,000 people at a cost of more than VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion). Construction is scheduled to take 50 years.


Most of the areas slated for the project are now paddy fields…


Or fish ponds.


Girls on their way home from school along a small road. Many of the roads in the area are this narrow and were only built in 2010.


Many bumpy dirt tracks remain. “The area is muddy most of the time, if not flooded,” this man said.


Since the project was announced, more than 3,000 families living in the area have been left with an uncertain future. They are not allowed to build new houses or transfer their land.


“We have no idea when we will have to hand our land over,” said this 40-year-old man as he fixes a wall. Vietnam does not technically allow private land ownership but grants land-use rights. The government holds the power to take over the land by providing compensation and relocation support.


A 60-year-old woman grazes cows in her backyard.


Construction of this house has been halted.


This 59-year-old man’s family has been using more than 1,500 square meters of the idle land to plant rice and lotus flowers during the wait. He wants to share the land among his children but he is not allowed to. “I hope the project will start soon so I can use the compensation to help my children buy houses,” he said.


Just across the river, hundreds of villas and skyscrapers have been rising up in District 2.

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