Violations impose 13-year-delay, escalate costs for Saigon safari park

By Trung Son   June 23, 2019 | 12:43 am PT
Violations impose 13-year-delay, escalate costs for Saigon safari park
A sign reads
Numerous violations including poor investor choice have delayed an eco-tourism park in HCMC for 13 years and caused loss of VND104 billion ($4.47 million).

The $500 million Sai Gon Safari Park in Cu Chi District, 50 kilometers from the city center, was planned to span over 456 hectares as Vietnam's largest ecotourism park that can be on par with Southeast Asian destinations in terms of wildlife perservation.

But the project has been on papers for more than 13 years. The Government Inspectorate said on Friday that violations by various agencies were responsible for the situation.

It said the HCMC People’s Committee did not follow legal procedures when appointing the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden Company the main investor for the project, and that the company was incompetent. It held members of the city's Department of Planning and Investment during the 2001 and 2006 terms mainly responsible.

Inspectors found the city's administration in 2004 did not follow legal procedures when transfering the project land to the Saigon Zoo firm. The company also violated regulations when it did not summit a detailed procurement plan for consultants to the Department of Transport for approval, while the department failed to push for the plan.

The 13-year period to complete the plan and get it approved was "too long," the inspectorate said.

It further said the delay was caused by authorized agencies not seeking the prime minister’s instructions, which led to the detailed plan for the project not being approved.

Entities responsible are the municipal departments of Planning and Investment, Construction, Transport and Architectural Planning; the HCMC People’s Committee, and the director of Saigon Zoo firm.

As the project did not have a compensation plan in accordance with current regulations, it has incurred losses of VND104 billion.

"All the money has been paid to residents. No evidence of fraud has been found, but the people responsible for the extra payment will have to be strictly punished," the inspection report said.

Hundreds of families had to be relocated for the project, which was approved in 2004. But over 10 years later, many still complain that relocation facilities were being built too slowly and no money has been provided for temporary housing.

The Government Inspectorate has suggested that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc order the HCMC administration to resolve the compensation and relocation issue as soon as possible. The relocation areas have to be completed immediately, while individuals and entities related to the violations should be disciplined, it said.

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