Deteriorating suburban roads get apathetic response from on high

Quite a few roads in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City are full of potholes, bumps and gaping cracks yet the district authorities are either turning a blind eye or simply passing the buck to local residents.

A bad part of Le Van Quoi Street

For more than four years, Phan Van Hon Street in District 12’s Tan Thoi ward has become more and more treacherous with a growing number of cracks and dips to catch motorists and cyclists unawares.

“Whenever we go along on our motorbikes, it’s like bouncing on a horse,” one local told Sai Gon Giai Phong.

Even worse are Thoai Ngoc Hau and Binh Long streets in Tan Phu District’s Phu Thanh ward, and Le Van Quoi and Huong Lo No. 2 in Binh Tan District’s Binh Tri Dong ward.

The sarcastic and disgruntled residents say they are not streets any more but giant holes that have segmented the path into narrow, zigzagging aisles.

Understandably, traffic jams are a perennial issue here.

After appealing in vain to the authorities, the residents are taking matters into their own hands, but it’s a hard road to travel.

On Thoai Ngoc Hau Street, Sai Gon Giai Phong witnessed Mr. Hai Tinh and his son pulling carts loaded with soil and scraps to fill in the holes.

The locals have put up warning signs and mounds of soil to prevent people on wheels from coming to grief, and scribbled notices to divide motorbikes and cars into separate lanes.

On Huong Lo No. 2 Street, wooden barrels or simply leaves are used to fill in the depressions.

Apathy at the top

When Sai Gon Giai Phong was about to snap Huong Lo Street, a woman standing nearby sighed and said there had been numerous press articles about the dreadful roads over the years but no action had been taken.

Back in 2005, the city gave its blessing to repair Thoai Ngoc Hau Street but the job stalled midway when the contractor went broke.

More recently, the people’s committee of Binh Tri Dong ward sought municipal approval to fix Thoai Ngoc Hau and Binh Long streets and was promised the work would begin late this year, but no concrete starting date has yet been made.

“We are still waiting,” said Nguyen Minh Tan, the committee’s chairman.

The district government has allowed Huong Lo and Le Van Quoi streets to be widened and made good, but it refuses to fund the work and instead is appealing to the locals to donate land for the expanded roadway.

Since the people who surrender their land will not be getting any compensation, some have understandably refused to move.

If all the land is acquired, says optimistic land officer Nguyen Van Quy without explaining how, the roadwork could start “as early as” next year.

By Diem Le – Translated by BH

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