Crumbling apartments put lives of Saigon residents at risk

By Thanh Nguyen   February 22, 2019 | 04:13 pm GMT+7

Hundreds of households live in dangerously dilapidated apartments on the verge of collapse in District 4.

More than 300 families live in constant risk of injury and even death from cracked walls, falling lime and bricks, as well as other dangers.

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Of late, residents of the Vinh Hoi apartment building in District 4 have been very excited over an approval from the municipal administration for district authorities to relocate them to safer housing.

This building has deteriorated so badly that some pillars have to be held together precariously by cable tied around them.

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The apartment block, which opened in 1968, is classified by the municipal Department of Construction as grade D, meaning it can collapse at any time and relocation needs to be done urgently.

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"The ceiling has been peeling off for about half a month. We are very lucky that the children in the building were in school (when chunks fell) and no one was hurt. You can just walk in this building and there is no saying when and where a piece of ceiling will fall on you," said Duong Duc An, 49, who lives on the second floor of Block A.

In the buildings’ corridors, there are hundreds of cracks. Leaking ceilings and damp, open electrical boxes are another health risk.

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The corridor on the second floor that connects blocks B and C is fragile and has several gaps of 5-10 cm wide. Residents live in constant fear that these concrete slabs will collapse and hurt people living below.

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The cracked balcony wall.

"Once my son went to the common corridor and sat on his chair for a smoke. Just as he came back to the house, a whole slab dropped from the ceiling on his chair, and our hearts stopped for a moment," said Qua, who has lived for more than 20 years in Block A.

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Rudimentary electricity and water connections hang haphazardly between buildings.

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About a kilometer away, the Truc Giang apartment building is in the same condition.

This four-storey apartment has stood more than 50 years. Today, many of its features have failed, there is no security, and the sewage system is constantly clogged.

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"The iron staircase is an old emergency exit, here for a long time. People temporarily fortify them with wooden boards and plywood to catch the occasional afternoon breeze here," said Vuong Van Vang, a 30-year-resident, sitting on a plastic chair on the emergency staircase.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee has just approved a plan for District 4 authorities to use 367 apartments in Vinh Loc B apartment building in Binh Chanh District to temporarily house more than 600 households in the Truc Giang and Vinh Hoi apartment buildings. In case people do not agree with the plan, the district will pay the people to find temporary housing on their own.

According to the municipal Department of Construction, there are 474 old condominiums built before 1975, of which 15 are grade-D apartments. While residents of all these apartment complexes have to be relocated urgently, the evacuation process is happening with the two complexes mentioned above.

 
 
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