Residents in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Ngai have occupied National Highway 1 to express their opposition to the developer of a local landfill which they claimed to be a source of serious pollution.
They blocked the national highway section from Sunday night until early Monday morning as a follow-up to a series of protests against the MD landfill in Pho Thanh Commune, Duc Pho District.
The opposition began in late July, when people living near MD started preventing garbage trucks from entering the facility, asserting that the venue had caused a stench and air pollution in the area.
During a dialogue between authorities and residents held by the provincial administration on August 15, the locals asserted that the dump is located too close to residential areas.
The sluggish waste treatment at the facility would potentially pollute the environment and groundwater resources, they said, suggesting that the landfill be moved to another place.
Despite explanation from competent agencies that the location and operation of the dump are legitimate, local residents did not change their opinion and continued hampering all operations of the landfill.
Another dialogue was carried out on August 23 but it could not improve the situation.
The blockade on Sunday arose from rumors that the developer of MD was trying to erase evidence of the dump’s pollution.
Angered residents flooded National Highway 1 at around 10:30 pm and did not allow any vehicle to travel on the road section.
As the incident caused serious congestion, officers tried to clear the street and were attacked by some of the locals.
Police eventually arrested nine people and made reports of administrative violations for 23 others.
The situation escalated as the crowd surrounded the headquarters of the Pho Thanh Commune administration on Monday morning to demand the release of the arrestees.
Provincial authorities had to organize a press meeting on Tuesday afternoon to address the situation.
During the meeting, Vo Van Hao, an official from the provincial Party Committee, asserted that blocking the highway was an illegal act.
An inspection will be initiated to determine whether or not the developer had violated regulations, officials said during the meeting.
People should remain calm and wait for the results of the inspection, they added.