​Delayed flood control project threatens to worsen inundation in Ho Chi Minh City

​Delayed flood control project threatens to worsen inundation in Ho Chi Minh City

Vehicles move in floodwater that builds up after a heavy rain on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The developer of Ho Chi Minh City’s biggest flood control project has announced they would halt all construction until further budget disbursement is made, raising concerns over worsened inundation in areas inhabited by 6.5 million residents.

The VND10 trillion (US$437.5 million) project, developed by Trung Nam Group, includes building six tide gates and eight kilometers of dykes along major waterways in the southern metropolis.

It had been expected to effectively eliminate tidal flooding in the urban districts of Binh Chanh and Nha Be as well as in District 1, District 4, District 7 and District 8, where around 6.5 million people settle.

However, the project developer last month announced they could not meet the deadline of April 30, as all construction had been halted due to a lack of capital. As of July 2017, the project reached a 38.5 percent completion rate, one year into construction.

The abrupt suspension leaves experts and locals worried, as the city has entered another rainy season when rainwater coupled with high tides could spell disaster for those living in inundated areas, including the city’s downtown.

The construction site for a tide gate in Ho Chi Minh City has been abandoned in this photo taken in May 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The construction site for a tide gate in Ho Chi Minh City is abandoned in this photo taken in May 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to weather forecast expert Le Thi Xuan Lan, tide peaks in Ho Chi Minh City are getting higher every year, and there have been more reported incidents of heavy rain during high tides in recent years, a trend that is likely to repeat during this year’s rainy season.

Delayed construction of the flood control project also affects traffic on rivers and canals in Ho Chi Minh City, as the installation of tide gates occupies a large portion of the waterways, according to Phan Cong Bang, head of maritime traffic under the municipal transport department.

Meanwhile, state-owned lender BIDV, which provides budgets for the project in the form of soft loans, says they cannot disburse more capital until the city’s administration confirms the project’s construction progress.

As of Tuesday, construction on the flood control project has not resumed.

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