Illegal construction booms in central Vietnam, targeting expressway compensation

By Le Hoang   March 7, 2019 | 08:38 pm PT
Illegal construction booms in central Vietnam, targeting expressway compensation
A makeshift construction is built in Thanh Hoa Province just to receive compensation from the North-South Expressway project. Photo by VnExpress/Le Hoang
Many families in Thanh Hoa have illegally built homes on land designated for the North-South Expressway, expecting higher compensation.

For a week now, dozens of families in the central province's Phu Lam Commune, Tinh Gia District have leveled ground and hired workers to build houses, water tanks, toilets and livestock pens in the area without prior permission, local authorities have reported.

Most of the illegal structures were built on rice fields near the Nghi Son-Bai Tranh route that the North-South Expressway is expected to pass through.

The families are hoping to demand higher compensation when site clearance begins for the expressway project.

The structures were mostly built during the night and in a short amount of time to avoid detection, reports say. However, trucks transporting construction materials like sand, cement and steel could be seen constantly passing through the roads in the commune.

Le Duc Nam, Chairman of Phu Lam Commune, said the construction of illegal structures being carried out from midnight until early in the morning has made it difficult for authorities to intervene.

However, the commune administration has managed to record and order the dismantling of 18 illegal structures as of Thursday, and has dispatched personnel to carry out constant patrols to prevent repeat violations.

Nam said that while detailed landmarks are yet to be set for where the North-South Expressway would pass through the commune, all households carrying out the illegal constructions are among those who have to be relocated for the project.

"Maybe the people heard of this information and got the idea to build more structures to benefit from the compensation," he said.

Pham Van Nhiem, Vice Chairman of Tinh Gia District also said the local administration has dispatched a task force to deal with the illegal construction boom in Phu Lam.

"It is completely wrong for the people to build structures without permission from the authorities, we will demand that they dismantle them," Nhiem said.

In November 2017, the National Assembly, Vietnam's top legislative body, issued a resolution on policies to invest in the construction of eastern segments of the North-South Expressway.

These segments would pass through several Thanh Hoa districts with a total length of 106 kilometers (66 miles) and an investment of over VND22 trillion ($939 million).

In Phu Lam District, the project's designated area stretches nearly three kilometers and would affect 180 families, with 87 having to relocate. Authorities however have yet to put up landmarks or carry out any land reclamation.

Nearly 4,000 households in 13 provinces will be relocated to make way for the entire North-South Expressway and relocation cost is estimated at VND12.4 trillion ($533.8 million).

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