HCMC canal cleaned at $211.5M cost polluted again

By Dinh Van   July 1, 2023 | 08:00 pm PT
HCMC canal cleaned at $211.5M cost polluted again
A section of Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal in District 6, HCMC, June 28, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
The Tan Hoa – Lo Gom Canal in HCMC remains garbage-filled and malodorous despite a cleanup eight years ago at a cost of VND5 trillion (US$211.5 million).

On Wednesday afternoon Hoang Dung had to shut all the doors and windows in her house to keep out the unpleasant smell wafting in from the canal five meters away.

Plastic waste and styrofoam boxes could be seen floating on its blackish and oily water.

To save her two grandchildren from the odor, Dung, 58, has installed an extra layer of glass in the door and an air purifier, but they are barely enough.

"During hot days, my whole family has to take shelter at relatives' houses just to get away from the smell," she says.

She has been living in the area for two decades and says the canal was clean and had no bad smell after the cleanup eight years ago, but pollution has returned in recent years.

Restaurants along the two banks directly dump all types of waste into the canal, including leftover foods and wastewater from washing foods and dishes.

People have also been using it as a landfill and throwing all types of garbage into it, including carcasses of pets and old furniture.

Signboards put up by local authorities along the canal, which flows through Districts 6, 11 and Tan Phu, to raise public awareness about maintaining hygiene have been vandalized.

A team from the HCMC Urban Environment Company Limited fished out trash from the canal from two boats some 500 m from Dung's house.

Among the garbage they collected were mattresses, animal carcasses, a couch, and a refrigerator. A member of the team said on average they remove five to six tons of garbage every day, most of it domestic trash.

Since it is now the rainy season in the city, an increasing amount of garbage is being swept into the canal.

A crane collects garbage from Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal, June 28, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

A crane collects garbage from Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal, June 28, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

The cleanup project in 2015 built almost 8,000 m of sewers to collect wastewater, dredged 300,000 cubic meters of mud and built 12 km of roads along its banks and relocated shanty houses from there.

The infrastructure remains intact but the canal itself has become severely polluted again.

Huynh Minh Hung, deputy chairman of District 6, said besides a lack of public awareness of environmental protection, the absence of a wastewater treatment plant is also to blame for the pollution.

He pointed to a lack of funds for building such a plant.

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