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Canals encroached on by houses, blocked by garbage in Ho Chi Minh City

Sunday, December 09, 2018, 19:19 GMT+7
Canals encroached on by houses, blocked by garbage in Ho Chi Minh City
A heavily polluted canal in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Many canals in Ho Chi Minh City, which play a significant role in the drainage system, have been either encroached upon by houses or become victims of excessive littering, while authorities are still scratching their heads over finding the best solution.

The situation currently affect about 40 canals, 76 sewers, and 41 outfalls across the southern Vietnamese metropolis, causing the flow of water to be congested, the municipal People’s Council said in a recent meeting.

This is considered one of the primary reasons for the increasingly serious inundation in the city.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters have followed a team of the city’s Urban Drainage Company (UDC) to record the severity of the problem.

At the Nam Long Residential area in District 7, a series of houses were actually built on top of a 100-meter-long section of Ba Buom Canal.

Some of these homes do not have proper addresses, the UDC employees said, adding that they were previously makeshift shelters, whose owners were eventually able to turn them into concrete houses.

Ba Buom used to play a major role in the drainage system of the neighborhood.

It is now nearly impossible for UDC employees to dredge the channel due to the houses on top.

As a result, the neighborhood is often flooded whenever it rains, according to local residents.

A resident dumps garbage along a trash-filled canal in District 8. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A resident dumps garbage along a trash-filled canal in District 8. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Another section of the canal along Huynh Tan Phat Street is also encroached on by several homes.

The width of some parts of the canal has been narrowed down from four meters to only one meter.

Meanwhile, a section of the Bui Huu Nghia canal along Dien Hong Street in Binh Thanh District has been filled with trash, negatively impacting the flow of water as well as the environment.

Units responsible are unable to clean the channel as many residents have constructed their houses on top of it.

“This canal is now nothing but a landfill,” Le Thi Thuan, a local resident, stated.  

Solutions

In 2016, Chairman of the People’ Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong ordered the Department of Transport, the Steering Center for Urban Flood Control Program, and district-level administrations to stop local canals from being invaded.

The issue, however, has yet to be solved so far.

Nguyen Hoang Anh Dung, deputy director of the Steering Center for Urban Flood Control Program, considered the situation as a problem left over from the past.

Houses built on top of Ba Buom Canal in District 7. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Houses built on top of Ba Buom Canal in District 7Photo: Tuoi Tre

In order to the deal with this, local authorities have to review all documents regarding the land ownership and building permits of the houses constructed on top of local canals, Dung elaborated.

They should take into account possible compensation options when requiring residents to move their homes away from the canals, he added.

This process takes a lot of time and needs coordination between different government bodies.

“Certain policies must be established, so that local residents will be willing to relocate,” Dung said.

“If the problem is properly addressed, the city’s drainage system will be greatly improved.”

Regarding excessive littering along canals and sewers, authorities in the city have been mobilizing multiple units to patrol and fine violators since the beginning of the year, said Nguyen Toan Thang, director of the municipal environmental department.

That effort is not enough to deter the violators, Thang said, adding that competent agencies should be allowed to use evidence from surveillance cameras to fine them.

The central government currently has no guidelines on penalizing people who violate environmental protection laws with proof from CCTV, the official explained.  

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Duy Khang / Tuoi Tre News

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