Canal encroachment, littering worsens flooding in HCMC

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Rivers and canals in HCMC are the exit of wastewater and rainwater from culvert system in HCMC however they have been choked up with many types of garbage, sediment and construction works.

Many streets are inundated after a rain in the afternoon in District 9 on May 20 (Photo: SGGP)

Many streets are inundated after a rain in the afternoon in District 9 on May 20 (Photo: SGGP)

The drainage system in Tan Son Nhat International Airport and surrounding areas has been fully built. However, water from culvert has overflowed catch pits combining with rainwater to flood the airport area by 20 centimeters. The situation has greatly affected airport activities.
Flooding has many times rendered in traffic chaos in a slew of nearby streets in Tan Binh district.
The area has three main drainage directions comprising Hy Vong, Nhat Ban and A41 canals which flow has been blocked with encroachment works.
Of these, two kilometer long A41 canal, the main drainage route of Tan Son Nhat Airport, is worst transgressed. The former 2-4 meter wide canal has been narrowed to only one step in many sections or even filled up with small drains beneath to create paths.
Similarly, 8.2 kilometer Xuyen Tam canal starts from Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal in Binh Thanh and ends in Vam Thuat canal in Go Vap. This is the main drainage way of many residential areas in the two districts but has also been encroached by surrounding residents. Moreover, the canal has been clogged up with mud and garbage.
Fourteen years have gone by since the city Department of Transport proposed to dredge the main stream of the canal along 6.21 kilometers from Nhieu Loc to Van Thuat and three branches along 1.94 kilometers comprising Son, Binh Trieu and Binh Loi bridges.
So far, the project has still been on paper. As a result, residents living along the canal have been suffered flooding after heavy rains for the last decade.
Bui Hieu Nghia canal has faced the same destiny like Xuyen Tam in Binh Thanh district, receiving rainwater and household wastewater from Ward 1 and partly from Ba Chieu market through Dien Hong sluice gate.
The 554 meter long canal runs from Dien Hong sluice gate to Bui Huu Nghia bridge in Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal. Previously it was 4-6 meter in width but encroachment has reduced it to 2 meters. The canal is now unable to accommodate heavy rain water causing flooding in the area.
According to the HCMC Steering Center of Urban Flood Control Program, Binh Thanh District has 10 encroached canals and sluice gates making culverts not work.
Lot of sluice gates in District 12 have also been transgressed and clogged up, comprising those in Dong Tien, Ut Bon, Cau Suoi, Gia Dinh canals.
District 8’s People Committee reported that 31 penstocks and many canals such as Ba Luu, Ruot Ngua, Ba Doi, Bo De and Su have been infiltrated and suffered littering.
Rescuing canals
Chairman of the city People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong last yearend established a working group to conduct field trips and tackle canal encroachment in most districts citiwide.
He required Tan Binh district and the Center of Urban Flood Control Program to work with relevant agencies to dredge A41 canal to solve flooding for Tan Son Nhat Airport. At present Tan Binh is waiting for the city's approval of land use plan to have a cornerstone to set up landmarks for the project.
The district is surveying local residents’ houses to draw compensation measure, hiring consultant firms to determine next steps to establish the canal dredging project. Tan Binh district said that if being implemented this year, the project will complete in 2019.
The city People’s Committee has also approved to establish a dredging project of Dong Tien canal to reduce inundation in Tan Thoi Hiep and Tan Hung Thuan wards, National Highway 1A, District 12.
While waiting for implementation of Xuyen Tam canal improvement project, chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong has required the Flood Control Center to regularly dredge the canal to unlock the flow.
Binh Thanh district has been asked to prevent residents from transgressing canals and littering.
In long term, houses encroaching canals must be cleared away. Agencies should review the progress of projects and urge investors to speed up construction. If these two measures are unfeasible, the agencies should report to the city People’s Committee to handle.
The Department of Transport said that the pre-feasibility report of Xuyen Tam canal improvement project has nearly been done by Hanoi Ngan Nam Company to submit to the committee for approval.
According to the draft report, roads alongside Xuyen Tam canal will be broadened to 4-6 lanes with the total width of 23-26.6 meters. The canal will be uncovered. Total investment capital is estimated to approximate VND5,272 billion (US$232.4 million). Of these, site clearance will cost VND1.1 trillion.
The project will be carried out under BT (Build-Operate) contract and investors will reclaim investment funds by exploiting the roadside land fund to build apartment blocks and office buildings.
Experts said that canal encroachment is the common situation in many districts. Therefore, the city should determine to clear violating works and dredge canals to reduce flooding.

By QUOC HUNG – Translated by Hai Mien

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