Will Hanoi always flood when it rains?

By Vu Thi Minh Huyen   October 14, 2023 | 04:00 pm PT
Will Hanoi always flood when it rains?
Vehicles are stuck on a flooded section of Nguyen Xien Street, Hanoi's Hoang Mai District, under heavy rains on September 28, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Huy Manh
A flooded Hanoi is hardly news these days. But even after dozens of years, why does the capital keep getting flooded every time it rains heavily?

The heavy rain at the end of last month was right during rush hour, paralyzing traffic on multiple roads. I live and work in Ha Dong District, and I brought my daughter to school from 6:45 a.m. before going to work.

I left home early, but I already saw how some roads were inundated and traffic was jammed. Some had to ride their motorbikes on the sidewalks, while others' engines died after wading in floodwater.

My eldest daughter studies at the Foreign Language Specialized School, and she too had to go through knee-deep water to get to class. The areas at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi are simply too low-lying, so every time it rains, they become literal rivers. Students and teachers alike had to wade through the water to get to school that day.

My colleague, who lives in Hoang Mai District, said several roads were so flooded that many motorbikes malfunctioned. All the routes leading to downtown areas were terribly congested.

My friend, who traveled to work in Ha Dong, said it took three hours due to all the traffic jams. Many of my other coworkers couldn't get off the road and had to request the morning off. I was lucky to leave home early.

Hanoi being flooded is a tale as old as time. But even after dozens of years, the capital is always inundated every time it rains. There are several reasons: the planning of drainage systems cannot keep up with the speed of urbanization; uncoordinated traffic infrastructures leading to congestion; lack of traffic police personnel making it more difficult to monitor traffic; as well as the poor behavior of people in traffic.

Hanoi, the heart of the nation, cannot let this be a signature characteristic of the city. If we don't think of ways to resolve the problem, in another 10 years from now, the people will still suffer from constant flooding and traffic jams.

The Hanoi Department of Planning and Architecture must quickly deploy measures to gradually resolve the inundations, such as by evaluating the city's drainage systems, and integrating the systems with urban development and the planning of parks.

There needs to be adjustments to drainage planning so that it will increase the city's anti-flooding capabilities. There needs to be a re-evaluation of the drainage systems, with visions for 20, 30, or even 50 years later. All the planning must be done in a coordinated way, and local adjustments that may disrupt the consistency and unity of infrastructures should be avoided.

The construction sector also needs to manage the foundations of structures, as well as having coordinated plans for drainage of the entire region. High-capacity water pumps need to be invested in more, and rainwater drainage systems need to be upgraded. Natural systems that improve water quality also need to be utilized to the best of their capabilities.

Approved park projects with detention basins also need to be hastened, and the dredging of existing lakes in the city also need to be considered. Lakes and ponds must not be moved due to construction, and investors and local authorities should be encouraged to build such parks to increase the city's drainage capabilities whenever it rains.

The transport sector needs to inform people better on traffic etiquettes, so people would willingly abide by the law to keep themselves and others on the road safe. Such an attitude needs to be consistent, no matter what weather conditions might be, or whether traffic police officers are present or not.

The Hanoi Sewerage and Drainage company must have enough personnel to help with drainage during rainy seasons, as well as operating water pumps to drain the water away as fast as possible.

Hanoians themselves must educate themselves on traffic etiquettes, and abide by the law even when it rains or when no traffic police officers are present. If such a thing could be achieved, Hanoi's traffic jams will be gone.

Flooding and traffic congestion severely impact production and people's daily lives. I hope that in the future, people of the city will no longer need to worry about the rains, floods and traffic jams.

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