Saigonese fix flooded street on their own

By Dinh Van   November 6, 2023 | 03:13 pm PT
Saigonese fix flooded street on their own
A woman drives next to a fence set up to serve the work of upgrading An Phu Dong 35 Street in HCMC's District 12, Nov. 1, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
A group of over 100 families in HCMC's District 12 pooled their own money to repair their continuously-flooded street after the authorities stalled on helping out.

Since the rainy season arrived in southern Vietnam last April, a 400-meter-long section of An Phu Dong 35 Street, which stretches about 4 km long and intersects with National Highway 1, has been left flooded.

For the past six months, residents of the street have had no choice but suffer the chronic flooding, which has halted their businesses, destroyed parts of the road, created hazardous potholes, and caused a severe slowing of the flow and pace of both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Vo Thi Ngoc Lan, chairwoman of the An Phu Dong Ward, said the road has been left continuously flooded because it has no drainage system. She added that the street's high traffic density combined with the stagnant water has prompted the road's quality to rapidly deteriorate even further.

In 2021 and 2022, the ward began upgrading a section of the road, but due to a lack of funding, the work stalled and was eventually left incomplete, she said.

She also said that in July the ward proposed that the district use its budget to upgrade the road, but the district rejected the idea, citing a lack of funding.

The good news is that the flooding will soon end thanks to the fact that all 114 affected families have agreed to contribute portions of their own money to upgrade the road.

On Wednesday morning last week, Kiem, 50, stood on the sidewalk to watch as repair work finally resumed.

Owning a barber shop on An Phu Dong 35 Street, Kiem said that his number of daily customers had dropped from an average of 20 to just three or four.

Kiem said there were days when rising waters flooded his home and barber shop, damaging his furniture.

He said he had lifted the sidewalk and the house’s foundation three times, but the efforts did little to curb the flooding.

He and many other affected families had petitioned local authorities to deal with the problem more than a few times, and many meetings had been held, but no thorough solutions were ever carried out.

It was not until last month that affected families and the district reached an agreement in which the district will spend more than VND1.9 billion (US$77,000) to upgrade the road and local people will contribute VND1.7 billion to build sewers.

Paying VND4 million for the work, Kiem said: "I just want to get it done so I can get my business and my life back to normal again."

Kiem’s neighbor That said he was "happy" to contribute VND3.2 million to fix the road.

The 35-year-old said the prolonged flooding had disrupted his family’s life for too long.

Owning a motorbike repair shop, That said that on days of heavy rain, he had to stay up all night to drain floodwater to protect the equipment and machinery.

Meanwhile, on days of high tides, floodwater would rise up to his bed, despite all the sandbags he placed at the front door.

That even said he was willing to join the workers at the construction site in order to help the work progress as fast as possible.

"As long as the flooding is gone, our life will be stable," he said.

An Phu Dong 35 Street has been flooded for six months now. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

An Phu Dong 35 Street in Ho Chi Minh City has been flooded for six months now. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

An Phu Dong 35 is one of five roads that will be repaired and upgraded using funding from the district’s state budget and local people’s contributions this month.

In total, work on the five roads will cost around VND12 billion, about half of which is being paid for by local people.

On Huynh Thi Hai Street in Tan Chanh Hiep Ward, locals are paying the full cost of repairing the road.

Dau An Phuc, the district’s vice chairman, said that as an outlying locality, District 12 is still home to many "rural roads" with no drainage systems.

Over time, with the rapid pace of urban development and the appearance of more concrete buildings, water cannot drain into natural canals, leading to prolonged flooding in residential areas.

Across the city, in the first nine months of this year, local residents have contributed either capital or land to expand and upgrade 88 streets.

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