City People’s Council grills officials on problems

Problems relating to infrastructure, the East-West Highway project, and periodic flooding came up at yesterday’s question-and-answer session at the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council’s ongoing quarterly session.

Deputy Truong Trong Nghia raises his questions at the session (Photo: SGGP)

The director of the Department of Transport, Tran Quang Phuong, was asked about urban infrastructure, including violations in building the East-West Highway, and the state of water bodies.

He said Huynh Ngoc Si, former deputy and head of the Project Management Board, has been suspended pending an investigation into his alleged corruption while awarding the highway project.
A deputy, Truong Trong Nghia, asked, “What is your view on the violations by former deputy director Huynh Ngoc Si?”

Another deputy added, “What steps will the department take to deal with problems related to the projects?”  
Mr. Phuong replied: “The project is classified as group A and run by the Project Management Board. The city, not my department, manages this board.

“As for Mr Si, we are responsible for his acts.
“Most of the bid packages of the project have been approved by the Government and evaluated by its agencies. Therefore, the problems that have occurred are not within our control.”

The department has reported about the case to the city authorities and Party Committee, and they are investigating, he added.

Director of the Natural Resources and Environment Department, Dao Anh Kiet, speaks at the session (Photo: SGGP)

Works to check flooding

Many deputies voiced concern that the frequent flooding and traffic jams have not been resolved despite spending VND12 trillion (US$706 million) on infrastructure required to fix them.

“Why has the situation not improved and how many canals have been filled up?” they asked.

Mr. Phuong blamed the situation on the rapid pace of urbanization. But he did not say how many canals in the city have been filled up.

He added some projects require the filling up of canals, but arrangements have to be made for draining water, he admitted.

Mr. Nghia asked: “Where did the $706 million come from and where has it gone? I was told the city needs $4 billion by 2020 for works to stop the flooding, but will they be feasible and efficient?”

Pham Phuong Thao, chairwoman of the People’s Council, replied to the last question: “The project will help ease the flooding. What matters now is raising the money. The council will organize a conference for it.”

Wasteful use of stores and yards 

Deputy Dang Van Khoa produces a photo showing an unused warehouse  (Photo: SGGP)

Many public warehouses and yards leased out in the city are used in a wasteful manner, deputy Dang Van Khoa said, producing several photos showing unused warehouses and others being used to store scrap.

“What is the city authorities’ role in this?” he asked.

Dao Anh Kiet, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said he hoped to hold a workshop to help fix this problem. Local authorities should monitor the use of warehouses and yards, he said.

The rents for these facilities should be based on market prices, he said, suggesting those used wastefully should be taken back by the city.

He blamed the low rents for the inefficient use of these facilities. “The department suggested in 2005 that market rates should be collected from lessees, but why haven’t the city authorities considered it yet?” he queried.

Concluding the session, Ms. Thao said most of the answers focused on explaining rather than finding solutions to problems. She added that some agencies have been tardy in dealing with the problems.

By Van Anh, Ai Chan – Translated by Minh Tam

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