The clearance plan was unveiled in a press conference by Hoang Nhu Cuong, deputy chief of the city’s Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR).
Cuong said around 300 trees on Ton Duc Thang Avenue, which runs along the Saigon River in District 1, will either be uprooted and replanted elsewhere or felled to clear the area for the construction of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge, which will connect District 1 and District 2, and Ba Son Station which will be part of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line.
According to Cuong, only 16 of the 300 trees are to be cleared in the next two months to give way to Ba Son Station while the remaining plants will be handled at a later date for the building of the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge.
The clearance plan for those 284 trees will be drafted by a procuring agency and submitted to the municipal People’s Committee by the end of April, Cuong said.
Only four out of the 16 trees cleared in this phase will be relocated, while the other 12 are to be chopped down from March 26 to May 7, said Chu Son Binh, deputy director of the Management Authority for the First Project under MAUR.
The cleared area will be reserved for the entrance and exit of the upcoming metro station, Binh said.
He explained that only straight, proportional, and healthy trees with trunk diameters measured at 1.3m from the ground no greater than 50cm will be uprooted for replanting elsewhere, in answering questions regarding the reason for not saving all 16 trees.
Ho Chi Minh City Parks and Greenery One Member Co. Ltd. said at the press conference that the company had conducted thorough evaluation on the condition of each tree and had reached an agreement with the procuring agency of the first metro line on the handling plans for those 16 trees.
Dong Van Khiem, vice chairman of the Reviewers Council for the plan, said all trees on Ton Duc Thang Avenue are African mahoganies (khaya senegalensis) mostly planted about 100 years ago during the French colonial.
The species has been listed by the People’s Committee among the trees banned from being grown on public streets due the unique feature that their root system grows just as large as their canopy and can potentially damage nearby buildings and roads, Khiem added.
African mahoganies have already been cleared off the streets of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, he said.
The contractor of Ba Son Station said the expense for felling the trees is estimated at around VND3-5 million (US$134-223) per tree depending on its size, while the cost for uprooting the plants increases fourfold to approximately VND20 million ($900) per tree.
Khiem noted that in reality the cost of uprooting and replanting each tree could reach VND40 million ($1,800) apiece due to the fact that only half of the uprooted trees are expected to survive and thrive.
At such a high cost, Khiem said, many people would now prefer growing trees with trunk diameters of 10cm or less to lower the expense.
However, the People’s Committee demanded every effort be taken to save as many trees as possible, as is the wish of most citizens.
According to Hoang Nhu Cuong, the uprooted trees will be replanted in parks across the city, while the wood collected from chopping the trees will be used as building materials for future public constructions.
The Reviewers Council agreed that clearing the trees is necessary for the greater good of the city and its people but requested that new and more beautiful trees be planted in the area after the construction on each project is completed.