Dubious buildings mushroom as people eye highway land compensation

By Hoang Tao, Duc Hung   March 23, 2022 | 12:31 am PT
People are building basic structures purporting to be farmhouses on lands near a planned national highway to claim higher compensation rates if they are acquired.

Dozens of workers were finishing a series of barns on a plot of land not far from the Ho Chi Minh Road in Quang Binh's Le Thuy District on March 17.

The barns, hundreds of square meters in size, were lightweight and evidently flimsy and without even metal beams to hold them up, and were expected to be completed in a few days.

Not far from there, a land owner was planting hundreds of fruit plants.

It was not an uncommon sight in the area: In fact, hundreds of farms and houses were springing up on land plots expected to be acquired for the proposed North-South Highway to be built over the Ho Chi Minh Road. Why? Lands with houses and farms would be paid higher compensation than empty lands.

It only cost him around VND500,000-600,000 to build a square meter of barn, he said. But for the land facing the Ho Chi Minh Road, each square meter could be sold for up to VND50 million ($2,186).

He admitted it is somewhat of a gamble since if his land is not acquired for the highway, the money he spends would go to waste.

People in Quang Binhs Phu Hoa Village collect materials to build barns. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao

People in Quang Binh's Phu Hoa village collect materials to build farmhouses. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao

Along the Ho Chi Minh Road section through Phu Hoa Village, bricks, sands, cements and trees were being collected to build farms and barns as well.

In Nong truong Le Ninh Town and Son Thuy and Truong Thuy communes, people living along the Ho Chi Minh Road were also illegally building and enlarging houses.

The town people's committee has stopped 20 of them due to lack of building licenses and the fact they were building structures on agricultural lands.

The highway is expected to run 32 km through five communes and towns in Le Thuy District, with around 150 families relocated for it.

Locals, despite not knowing exactly which lands would be acquired, have made educated guesses, thanks to surveillance units discussing the highway's intended location with local authorities, and started building.

Nguyen Xuan Tuong, head of the province Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, said many people are building structures on agricultural lands though it is illegal.

"People committing violations will not be paid compensation."

A barn under construction in Quang Binh. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao

A barn under construction near Ho Chi Minh Highway in Quang Binh Province. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao

The same thing is also happening in other places where highways are planned.

In Quang Tri's Vinh Linh and Gio Linh districts, people are also building houses, barns and fences and planting crops on lands they expect to be acquired.

Nguyen Van Song, chairman of Gio An Commune in Gio Linh, said authorities are trying to persuade people not to illegally build structures on agricultural lands.

In Ha Tinh, the Can Loc District People's Committee has already warned a local named Le Thi Dien in Trung Loc Commune for building a house on a piece of land that will be acquired for the North-South Highway. Authorities have told her to stop construction or face fines.

Dien said she built the house to live in and did not know a highway was going to pass through it.

But authorities were unsatisfied with this, saying the reason for building the house was "unclear."

The Ha Tinh-Quang Tri section of the North-South Highway will be around 267 km long.

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