Vietnam PM orders inspection into 'faulty' planning of Thu Thiem elite zone

By Hoang Thuy   May 15, 2018 | 11:11 pm PT
Vietnam PM orders inspection into 'faulty' planning of Thu Thiem elite zone
Part of the Thu Thiem new urban area under development in Ho Chi Minh City's District 2. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Following noisy complaints, inspectors have been asked to look into shortcomings in the development process.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered government inspectors to clarify controversial matters regarding the planning of Thu Thiem new urban area, saying he found "faults" in the process which has recently received noisy complaints.

There were shortcomings regarding land management, archives keeping and crisis management at the project, which have caused prolonged dispute, Phuc said at a government meeting on Tuesday.

He ordered the authorities to fix the problem "with determination."

The Thu Thiem Urban Area in the city's District 2 spans 657 hectares (1,623 acres) across the Saigon River from the city's central District 1. It is set to become one of the biggest international financial and commercial centers in Southeast Asia.

To develop the megaproject, the city spent 10 years relocating 15,000 households, and paid out nearly VND30 trillion ($1.32 billion) in compensation.

However, the project has been caught up in a relocation scandal as more than 100 affected families said their houses were not supposed to be included in the demolition list according to the original planning map drawn up in 1996, which was reportedly approved by the PM at the time.

The map was recently reported to be missing, and controversy has been circulating ever since. Some officials say the map never existed, but an architect claims to have a copy of it.

While the map’s whereabouts is still under investigation, media reports have surfaced about many Thu Thiem residents spending years filing complaints to different government agencies about improper seizure of their properties as well as poor compensation. Many have traveled multiple times between Hanoi and Saigon seeking justice. Some residents lodged their complaints with tears and frustration at a meeting with the city's legislators, which took more than seven hours until late at night, last week.

Many said the development plan has been plaguing their lives for more than a decade. They finally had a chance to voice their frustrations as news about the missing map drew national headlines and widespread public attention.

“We highly appreciate citizens who have resettled and handed over their land and houses for the megaproject," Phuc said on Tuesday. "We must not let them live in difficulties after they had given up their land for the city's development."

He asked the city authorities to work with the inspectors to finish the investigation in two months.

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