Residents of the Thanh Da peninsula in Ho Chi Minh City have been waiting in the past 26 years for the completion of a development plan that has been negatively impacting their lives and limiting their ownership over local land and houses.
Over 3,000 households on the peninsula are uncertain when their lives will take a positive turn as the plan, approved by the municipal administration in 1992, is still nowhere near completion due to repeated delays.
Thanh Da covers an area of 570 hectares in Ward 28, Binh Thanh District and was zoned to become a cultural urban area in 1992, thus locals are not permitted to build new house or transfer their land to others.
In 2004, the People’s Committee began reclaiming land plots on the peninsula and chose the Saigon Construction Corporation as the developer of the urban area.
|Houses on Thanh Da Peninsula. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
However, residents did not receive compensation for their land as of 2010, while roads deteriorated and inundation became frequent, forcing the administration to cease the plan.
In 2015, the scheme was restarted, featuring a modification that Thanh Da will be an eco-urban area with a population of 45,000, connected with the rest of the city via a total of five bridges.
A joint-venture between Bitexco Group and Emaar Properties PJSC was selected as the developer in the same year.
Emaar Properties PJSC then withdrew from the project in mid-2016, putting the plan on hold once again.
|A section of the peninsula. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Due to the implementation of the plan, local residents are deprived of their rights to transfer their land, build new houses, or sell their properties.
Many have been forced to abandon their land and rent houses elsewhere in the city.
Meanwhile, others who chose to stay have been facing various difficulties.
Residing in a neighborhood in Thanh Da, Tran Thi Sang is now worried her newly-constructed house would be pulled down by local authorities.
Sang’s old house was always victimized by tidal flooding. While her neighbors had managed to elevate their homes to cope with the inundation, Sang could not afford such renovation.
|Empty land plots are left untouched in Thanh Da. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
When she finally had enough money, the woman discovered the walls of her house were too weak to withstand any adjustment, thus building an entirely new structure was the only option.
Although authorities only allow residents to fix their houses, Sang had no choice but to borrow extra money and construct a new two-room home.
After discovering the situation, the Binh Thanh People’s Committee has ordered that the house be dismantled.
Sang’s neighbors and authorities in Ward 28 are making a petition, asking the district administration to consider her case an exception.
|Some parts of the peninsula look just like the countryside. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Residents in Ward 28 have lived without proper streets and sewer systems over the past decades.
Roads in alleys across the neighborhood were built by the locals themselves, while waste has been dumped at some empty land plots, creating a perfect environment for flies and mosquitoes to proliferate.
The problem is much worse during rainy and flood seasons.
“The city’s leaders need to come and see our misery here. Life is so difficult we may have to abandon our own homes,” a resident complained.
|Tall buildings on the other side of the river can be seen from Thanh Da Peninsula. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Urban plan to resume
According to Vice-chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Tran Vinh Tuyen, the administration is determined to complete the urban project in Thanh Da.
As Emaar Properties PJSC has withdrawn from the project, procedures have to be carried out from the beginning to find a new developer, Tuyen said.
The same rule applies if Bitexco Group, the other party in the joint-venture, wants to carry on with the plan by itself.
The new developer is expected to be selected within this year, the official continued.
|Residents travel on a narrow and poorly constructed street in Thanh Da. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
In the meantime, the Department of Construction will be in charge of issuing temporary building permits to local residents if necessary, he added.
A representative from Bitexco told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the firm is capable of implementing the project and is asking the city’s administration for permission to continue the plan.
The administration will review the proposal before submitting it to the central government for final approval.
If it is approved, the Bitexco representative expected that the main infrastructure within the project will be finished in 2021, while the remaining parts will be complete by 2032.