Residents of apartment in Saigon's backpacker street stand firm as city warns of collapse

By Thanh Nguyen   November 25, 2016 | 11:00 am PT
HCMC has called for the urgent evacuation of the old building on Bui Vien Street.

A foreigner walks past 155-157 Bui Vien in Pham Ngu Lao Ward. This week, construction officials declared the frame of the six-story building unsound and warned that it could collapse at any time. It remains unclear what the city would do with the land where the building to be demolished.


Many houses lack a balcony, so people hang laundry in the central air shaft.


Residents have covered windows with scrap wood and plastic tarps to create privacy.


Apartments here are between 20 and 60 square meters; most lack proper ventilation. A few families addressed the situation by knocking extra windows into the walls.


Luu Thi Hanh has shared her apartment with three family members for nearly 40 years. “It's not very spacious and it’s getting old, but we cannot afford a new place yet,” Hanh said, adding that most of her fellow tenants own their apartments and are too poor to buy anything in the surrounding vicinity. 


Electric wires hang loosely in the stairway. Residents say the wiring has never caused a fire, but it does not make them feel particularly safe.


A woman dries her laundry on electrical wiring that runs along the rooftop.


Although life hasn't been perfect, many residents believe the building is structurally sound. Rather than be forced to relocate, they wish the city would repair the leaky ceiling and tidy up the building's wiring.


The central stairwell still looks fine to many people.


The building manager believes there's nothing wrong with the building and worries that the relocation plan will disrupt the residents' lives.

Photos by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

Related news:

Ho Chi Minh City ranked among top 5 real estate markets in Asia-Pacific

go to top