Erosion eats away at HCMC land mass

By Minh Nga   September 24, 2019 | 05:30 am PT
Erosion eats away at HCMC land mass
A house collapses in Nha Be District of HCMC due to erosion in June 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Tin Tin.
Erosion keeps swallowing chunk after chunk of Vietnam's southern metropolis, but its remedial and prevention work is yet to keep pace.

The Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control and Search and Rescue and the municipal Department of Transport estimate that Ho Chi Minh City is now home to 18 "severe" and 19 "extremely severe" erosion hotspots.

Citing this, a Monday report on the news site of the Ministry of Construction said that the district most affected was the outlying Nha Be to the city's south.

The coastal district had 11 dangerous areas announced last year and one more has been found this year.

Its neighbor Can Gio District has five spots that have existed since last year and two new ones this year.

The remaining 15 erosion hotspots are in Districts 2 and Thu Duc to the east side of the city; and Districts 8, Binh Chanh and Hoc Mon to the west.

Compared to last year, the number of erosion hotspots in the city has dropped by four thanks to the building of embankments in Districts 7, Binh Chanh, Nha Be and Can Gio, said Nguyen Van Truc, deputy head of the natural disaster prevention committee.

For the existing eroded areas, the city had already completed plans to build embankments, but progress has been behind schedule and only one project has been finished so far.

22 are still under construction, six are stuck at the step of site clearance and another six remain on paper.

Truc admitted that erosion continued to threaten the safety of local residents, especially those in "extremely severe" areas.

The committee has observed that investors of several embankment projects did not conduct complete and careful studies on the topography, geology and hydrology of the eroded areas, and as a result, project designs failed to guarantee safety and stability.

So far this year, at least two projects have had to go under repairs for subsidence and erosion that happened during construction.

Worse still, projects already been put into use have quickly deteriorated and failed to perform their tasks of preventing erosion and protecting local residents during high tide.

Earlier this month, the city organized a conference in which it called foreign experts to help it make plans for riverside development, including the construction of effective embankments.

A senior city official noted that the city's waterway system, which stretches 7,955 kilometers (4,500 miles) and makes up 16 percent of the city's total area of more than 2,000 square kilometers, was being threatened by climate change and fast urban development.

As a result, city's riverside areas have been suffering from salt intrusion, subsidence and erosion, he said.

Right next to the megacity, the Mekong Delta has been suffering constant erosion for years now. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Mekong Delta is losing 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of land to sea and river erosion every year.

Experts have pointed fingers to sand exploitation in rivers and the decline of annual floodwaters that build up silt in the region, which they said is a result of dams in the upstream parts of the Mekong River.

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