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HCMC starts 'smart city’ transformation, but locals have their doubts

By Trung Son   November 25, 2017 | 09:27 pm PT
HCMC starts 'smart city’ transformation, but locals have their doubts
Ho Chi Minh City is all ready to turn itself into a 'smart city' despite local residents' skepticism. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong
The reality is the plan and all it promises seem a distant dream for some residents.

Ho Chi Minh City has started implementing a masterplan to transform the southern metopolis into a "smart city" by 2020, but local residents don't seem to be too enthusiastic about the news.

The move follows Vietnamese legislators' decision on Friday to give the city more decision-making power to boost its development, including authority over land management, investment and public spending.

The goal of this ambitious "smart city" plan is to solve the problems the city is facing, including rapid population growth, unstainable economic growth, inadequate forecasting, planning and management, poor health, education and transport, pollution and weak public administration.

It will focus on creating a better living environment for the city’s residents.

According to the plan, HCMC’s residents will gain access to low-cost power, convenient public transport, good healthcare services and schools, fresh air, clean water and diverse recreational activities, while being guaranteed a low crime rate.

Workers will be offered basic services in terms of infrastructure to ensure a competitive edge in the global market, such as broadband internet, clean, stable and cheap energy, opportunities to study and affordable living space.

The "smart city" plan will also allow the city’s government to make the best use of its resources, thereby improving the quality of services for its people and future generations.

Locals and businesses will be able to complete administrative procedures online instead of wasting time in government offices waiting for the final seal of approval.

The plan also promises “advanced tools” for better management that will prevent state officials from causing problems for residents and businesses.

The same solution will be applied in public hospitals, allowing patients to book appointments and services online.

In order to make the plan work, the city will have to spend time building a database that covers infrastructure, the population and public and private investment.

Although the plan seems to be painting Saigon as some kind of utopia, its residents are skeptical.

VnExpress readers' reactions to the plan when it was first announced last month were cycnical, saying it was macroscopic and unfeasible.

“If the plan can save the city from floods, it’s already halfway to success,” read a comment from Truong Luong.

Lan Nguyen said the plan is putting forward “millennial goals” for HCMC, while Nguyen Thanh said citizens could only “dream” about what the plan promises to achieve.

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