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Ho Chi Minh City’s $430mn anti-flooding project delayed partly over switch of steel use

Monday, September 10, 2018, 17:11 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City’s $430mn anti-flooding project delayed partly over switch of steel use
Part of the anti-flood project is seen along the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Capital disbursement for an ambitious multimillion-dollar anti-flooding project in Ho Chi Minh City has been put on temporary hold as the developer has been found using a kind of steel different from what was agreed upon in the approved construction design.

The VND10 trillion (US$430 million) project is expected to proactively handle tide-related floods and lessen climate change consequences in a vulnerable 570-square-kilometer urban section inhabited by around 6.5 million people, nearly half of the metropolis’ population.

The section, just over one-fourth of the hub’s total area, is scheduled to have six tide-control gates and many pumping stations in different districts.

The costly plan has been put off since April due to disrupted funding as the project’s supervisor discovered that it mostly utilized the less expensive steel that was made in China, instead of the steel meeting Japanese standards or manufactured by the Group of Seven (G7).

L. Fernando Requena, general director of the joint venture formed to provide consultation and supervision to the project, underlined they found little ground to give a confirmation of further disbursement to the project.

With more than 2,000 metric tons of steel needed in the construction, the use of Chinese materials would mean much higher structure maintenance costs than that of G7 materials, according to Requena.

The Chinese steel, he added, was already imported into Vietnam for the project in 2017, and the switch to this product was simply a gesture to regularize a fait accompli.

But the project’s developer, Trung Nam Group, said the replacement was authorized while the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which has the right to assess the plan, said the change was to ensure the anti-flood structures meet construction standards as well as possible.

The project’s supervisor criticized what they saw as inconsistency running through the project’s basic design, construction drawing, and its real construction, an accusation Nguyen Tam Tien, head of Trung Nam, dismissed.

This is not the first time the project, started in mid-2016 and originally scheduled for completion by May this year, has been temporarily halted.

In late February, it was delayed due to issues of relocating residents in the construction zone.

Ho Chi Minh City has chronically faced flooding, with many of its streets inundated following downpours or during tidal rise.

Commenting on the ongoing delay, Nguyen Hoang Anh Dung, deputy director of the Steering Center of the Urban Flood Control Program, which supervises the plan, said the municipal administration has conducted inspections into the case.

“Upon the reviews, a solution is expected to be proposed to put the project again in motion soon,” he said.

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Thai Xuan / Tuoi Tre News

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