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Saigon’s prettiest canal defaced by huge refuse volume

Saigon’s prettiest canal defaced by huge refuse volume

Monday, November 09, 2015, 10:50 GMT+7

Once considered the most beautiful channel in Ho Chi Minh City, the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal has grown unsightly in recent years, weighed down with up to 13 metric tons of garbage each day.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

The 10km-long waterway snakes through District 1, District 3, Phu Nhuan District, Binh Thanh District and Tan Binh District in the southern Vietnamese metropolis.

It was given a facelift to transform it from a murky, dead waterway into a clean, green one with lush greenery along its sides.

The sides have become new playgrounds for local residents to unwind and exercise, and a rich habitat for fish to thrive in, if they are lucky enough to avoid getting caught by opportunistic, illegal anglers.

However, locals’ relief has been short-lived, as shortly after its facelift, the first phase of which ended in 2012, the canal has been topped with all kinds of refuse dumped by mindless residents, creating ghastly scenes and posing a grave pollution threat.

According to Phan Hoc Hai, in charge of the sanitary worker team under the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Environment Co. Ltd., his team scoops up between seven and 13 metric tons of garbage released into the canal on a daily basis.

The huge volume of trash has landed the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal in the city’s list of the most contaminated waterways.

The environmental pollution has led to fish dying en masse.

The Ho Chi Minh City Urban Environment Co. has now deployed 20 boats to pick up trash, mostly consumer garbage, rubble, animal carcasses, nylon bags and even broken pieces of furniture, which are adrift and emit foul odors along the canal.

At 5:00 am the other day, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters followed a trash-collecting team on one of their workdays.

Around 30 workers riding on 10 boats picked up over five metric tons of trash along the canal’s length on that morning alone.

Trash could be spotted afloat in large clusters everywhere, from the middle of the canal to beneath the bridges crossing over it.

“The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal receives large volumes of refuse from Xuyen Tam Creek [in Binh Thanh and Go Vap Districts] and the Saigon River,” Hai explained.

“Unthinking locals continue to litter on the canal’s banks and dump bags of trash into the waterway,” he added.

The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal’s pollution plague began after 1954 and lingered well into the 1960s.

A project to revamp the canal and its surroundings was then given high priority.

The first phase of the project, which started in 2002 and focused on revamping the canal and its neighborhood, was completed in August 2012.

The facelift was at first estimated to cost US$199.96 million, funded by the World Bank, according to The Saigon Times Online.

However, by 2010 the cost had risen to $316.79 million due to slow implementation progress.

The second phase of the project, including the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, began in March this year.


The alarming environmental pollution in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal is the “culprit” behind fish dying en masse. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Trash is found in a section of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal near Bui Huu Nghia Bridge, which links District 1 and Binh Thanh District. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Sanitary workers use a crane to clear up trash and water hyacinth inundating the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal from the Saigon River. Photo: Tuoi Tre


A man is pictured dumping a large bag of trash into a section of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal in District 1. Photo: Tuoi Tre


A sanitary worker dives to untangle pieces of refuse enmeshed in the propellers of a trash-collecting boat. Photo: Tuoi Tre


Sanitary workers begin picking up trash along the canal in the early hours on a daily basis. Photo: Tuoi Tre

hW38oKMg.jpgLitter is seen along the banks of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal and is later blown or flushed into the canal by winds or rainwater. Photo: Tuoi Tre


A mattress gets entangled in an automatic waste treatment system at a pump station along the canal and causes its operation system to malfunction. Photo: Tuoi Tre


The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal receives a few metric tons of refuse from Xuyen Tam Creek every day. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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