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Vietnam to improve management of sand exploitation in local rivers

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 17:00 GMT+7

Local authorities will be put in charge of managing the exploitation of sand along rivers in their localities, as part of an effort to prevent sand thieves from compromising the environment.

During a working session on Tuesday, the Minister Mai Tien Dung, head  of the Government Office, requested that the Ministry of Transport stop issuing permissions for the exploitation of sand along rivers in the country, following an order of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

The authority to do so shall be transferred to local administrations for a more effective management of the activity.

According to Minister Dung, the excessive dredging of rivers has become a pressing concern.

Aside from the administration in the northern province of Bac Ninh, which recently stated their opposition, leaders of other localities along the Red River, including Hung Yen, Ha Nam, and Thai Binh, have also voiced their concern.

According to Hoang Hong Giang, head of the Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration, the Ministry of Transport was previously given responsibility for the management of over 7,000 kilometers of river.

Utilizing a limited state budget, the agency was only able to dredge a small portion of the waterway.

Since 2008, the central government has encouraged local businesses to carry out dredging projects, and benefit from the sand collected via the operation.


Minister and Head of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung (L) speaks at the working session on March 21, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to previous regulations, the transport ministry was in charge of managing one section of a river while local authorities supervised the other.

This overlapping authority has been taken advantage of by sand thieves and some businesses, resulting in the illegal exploitation of sand causing erosion at local river banks, Minister Dung stated.

Sand collected from dredging along the section of river managed by the transport ministry will be owned by project developers, he explained, with profits netted from operations in other parts of the river to be added to the local budget.

However, the Ministry of Transport has not properly managed their section of the waterway, as a boat can anchor along one section of the river while their sand dredging pipes can stretch into another.

To deal with the issue, a new directive by the prime minister says that local authorities will now be allowed to manage all sections of their local rivers and also be responsible for monitoring dredging projects.

During the working session, Minister Dung also discussed the existing problems in dealing with overloaded trucks.

Overweight vehicles have been one of the main causes of the degradation of local traffic infrastructure.

The transport ministry has been proactive in combating the issue, Dung said, before adding that their effort alone was not enough.

Coordination between all relevant authorities is required to deal with the violation, the official said.

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