HCMC to spend $345 million on anti-flooding projects this year

April 8, 2019 | 05:07 am PT
HCMC to spend $345 million on anti-flooding projects this year
Ho Chi Minh City residents during a high-tide afternoon on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street in District 4 in October, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa
HCMC plans to spend VND8 trillion on 218 projects to combat flooding in downtown areas and part of the outskirts.

The projects will be carried out in six places covering 550 square kilometers (212 square miles) that are currently home to 6.5 million people.

They will upgrade water drainage systems, build ponds and fix flood-prone streets in 1, 7, Tan Phu, Tan Binh, Thu Duc and Go Vap districts.

The city will use its own budget and call for investment via public private partnerships to carry out the projects.

In related news, the city has also pledged to complete an anti-flooding project covering 100 hectares (250 acres) in districts 1, 4, 7, 8, Binh Chanh and Nha Be.

The VND10 trillion ($430 million) project was supposed to be completed this June, but it has been suspended since April last year after a supervising consultant found out that it had used steel from China instead of G7 countries as stipulated in the contract signed between the city and the domestic private investor. G7 is a group of seven largest and most advanced economies in the world.

As part of its efforts to stem urban flooding, the city has said it will also deal with blocked drainage areas such as canals and sewers.

Commenting on the plan to fight floods this year, experts say the number of projects is high, but given the tardiness of ongoing projects, it is difficult to imagine that residents will not suffer flooding misery during the rainy season.

Last month, HCMC passed a VND473 billion ($20.4 million) project for a 14-month comprehensive renovation of the highly flood-prone Nguyen Huu Canh Street.

But this project will need some time for all needed procedures to be completed, and no one can tell if this will be done to get the street ready in time for the rainy season of 2020.

Ngo Viet Nam Son, an architect with experience in urban planning, said HCMC should be rational and understand that even if it could afford all projects it has planned, it cannot save itself from flooding.

He said fighting floods does not totally depend on projects like drainage systems or ponds, because there are way too many concrete buildings in the city and water has no way to flow away. Therefore, mistakes in urban planning should be taken into consideration, he added.

"It needs a more comprehensive plan that involves urban planning and urban management. What the city has done so far has stopped at the response level, rather than looking at full-fledged solutions for the situation," Son said.

HCMC, a city of 13 million, including migrants, has suffered flooding for more than two decades now. Scenes of residents getting stuck or wading in deep floodwaters every time it rains or the tide rises are common.

Laurent Umans, First Secretary, Water and Climate Change of the Netherlands Embassy in Hanoi, told a meeting last August that it was possible that a major part of the city lies below sea level in 50 years, turning it into a swamp.

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