HCMC forces long-settled community out of public land

By Son Hoa, Huu Nguyen   January 12, 2019 | 09:57 pm PT
HCMC forces long-settled community out of public land
Apartments are taken down in Loc Hung area in Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Binh District. Photo by VTC
Many households who’d settled down in a HCMC area 65 years ago have had their apartments demolished.

Authorities say they are about having long-standing residents of the Loc Hung area of Tan Binh District vacate it despite the latter having lived there for more than than six decades.

According to the district authorities, up to 112 out of 134 apartments in the area were "built without permission" in the Loc Hung area that spans 4.8 hectares (less than 12 acres).

On January 4 and 8, Tan Binh authorities demolished the 112 apartments.

The city has earmarked the area on Chan Hung Street for schools, parks and other public projects, a district representative told local media.

Long dispute

In previous letters sent to the central government, 90 families in Loc Hung said they had been living in the area since 1954 and have only used the area for farming.

They also paid taxes in accordance with law, but in 1999, when they asked local authorities to confirm their land use rights, their requests were rejected. For years since, it has been a common story that the authorities visit them regularly to put their apartments on record, and, on occasion, take some down.

District officials say Loc Hung initially belonged to the telecommunications division under the U.S.-backed South Vietnam regime.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the lot was used as a radio station for HCMC and in 1991, its ownership was transferred to the HCMC postal department.

In 2008, the city issued a decision to revoke the lot and Tan Binh District was assigned the task of resettling local residents in apartment projects.

After the relocation, the city will spend an estimated VND117 billion ($5 million) on building a kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools, parks and traffic infrastructure around the lot.

But through these years, residents in Loc Hung have built apartments for different purposes – for their own accommodation, leasing out space for tenants and doing other businesses.

Authorities say all this was done without any formal permission from local authorities.

Tan Binh District authorities say they had issued a decision on the eviction and informed Loc Hung residents of the plan before pulling down their apartments.

However, the expulsion has been strongly objected to by the residents. Those protesting the plan have had their statements recorded by the police.

For families who have not had enough time to resettle or find temporary accommodation, the district has helped them find rented accommodation and given them VND3 million ($130) per month for three months.

The district officials say their moves aim to ensure social order, avoid illegal construction and at the same time, limit the situation in which people sell and buy properties on public lands illegally.

Local Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan says Tan Binh has suggested since 2017 that the city forces unlicensed works out of Loc Hung area, but this proposal was not green lighted.

By last year, more illegal apartments were built in the area, pressing the city to act.

Many families are willing to move out of the area; only a few dozen people object to the plan, Nhan says.

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