No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

By Quynh Tran, Dinh Van   August 16, 2021 | 04:02 pm GMT+7
Nearly 800 people in HCMC who wish to return to their hometowns were blocked at Covid-19 checkpoints, and forced to go back.
No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

On Sunday, hundreds of people in Ho Chi Minh City tried to rush back to their hometowns along Hanoi Highway. But many were blocked at a checkpoint near Suoi Tien Theme Park.

To prevent congestion, police in Thu Duc and military personnel instructed people to gather in front of the gate of Mien Dong Bus Station instead.

Nguyen Van Binh, deputy head of the municipal traffic police department, said officers have convinced people gathering in District 1, Binh Tan District and under the Linh Xuan overpass to turn back.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

By noon, many people lingered about still hoping they would be allowed to go back to their hometowns.

Hong Men, from the central province of Ha Tinh, said she waited at the bus station since 6 a.m.

"I heard a group of people say they plan to go back to Ha Tinh on motorbike, so I decided to follow as well. For the past three months, I've had no money. I tried to hold on, but I can't anymore," the 25-year-old said.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

On the lawn inside the bus station, dozens waited until they could pass through the checkpoint. Many of them are from central Vietnam, from Ninh Thuan to Nghe An.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

Le Thi My Hong, 30, said she has been sitting from morning to noon.

"My husband and I work for a textile company, but we both lost our jobs three months ago. As no group from our hometown came to pick us up, we decided to ride back home ourselves. We already returned our apartment, and only have exactly VND500,000 left to embark on the journey. And yet authorities said we must turn back. Back to where?" the Binh Dinh native lamented.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

A police officer tries to persuade people to go back to their residences.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

By around 2 p.m., the crowd slowly dissipated, many having accepted to return.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

People gathering in several Ho Chi Minh City districts in an attempt to return to their hometowns in central Vietnam were taken to a school in District 12's Tan Thoi Nhat Ward to eat and rest.

Local police then escorted them back to their rented residences.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

A group of 12 people who had already returned their apartments to their landlords were taken to a police headquarters in Tan Phu District as a temporary residence.

"For workers who have already returned their apartments, we would contact their neighborhoods to arrange a place for them to stay," a police officer said.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

A police officer in District 6 loads three motorbikes and six workers onto a truck.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

A militia member loads the suitcases of workers onto a truck. These workers are all from a textile factory and originally planned to return to their hometown in Thua Thien Hue.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

Huynh Van Son and his wife had to go back to their apartment in Binh Tan District's Binh Hung Hoa A Ward, 12 hours after they attempted to leave Ho Chi Minh City for their hometown in Binh Dinh Province.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

The couple rented an attic spanning around 15 square meters and costing around VND1.5 million ($66) a month. They worked in construction, but the new coronavirus wave rendered both jobless for months.

"I tried to sign up to go back to my hometown by buses arranged by the authorities many times, but I couldn't get into the lists. So I decided to go back on motorbike," said Son.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

As they had run out of food, the couple only had instant noodles to eat, provided by authorities of Tan Thoi Nhat Ward.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

Son said one of his relatives informed him the other day a group of people from Binh Dinh would guide people back to their hometown, so he and his wife borrowed VND800,000 for Covid-19 tests, before gathering their belongings to return home to Cat Tan Commune, Phu Cat District.

No way home: Migrants stuck in HCMC amid lockdown

The 50-year-old man, now unable to go back, tries to hold on in Ho Chi Minh City instead.

When residents learned on Sunday HCMC would extend its social distancing order until mid-September, thousands attempted to leave the city for their hometowns, causing traffic jams. But they were not allowed to leave.

Over the past weeks, similar exodus have been frequent due to rising coronavirus threat. But spontaneous journeys like these could risk spreading the virus to other localities, officials said.

 
 
go to top