Locals’ concern over dykes in Northern areas

No matter how much money is spent on dyke maintenance each year, people in the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Nam Dinh, Bac Ninh, Thai Binh, Hai Phong and Hanoi continue to be afraid of rivers overflowing and dyke breaches once the flood season comes.

As messy as a landslide

The dyke at Duong River in Ngoc Thuy Commune in Long Bien District in Ha Noi is seriously eroded (Photo: SGGP)

As the center of the Northern Delta, Hanoi – the converging place of many currents and a home of small and large river dykes – is given much money to strengthen dykes, as well as embankments. Yet, the general image is quite poor due to many frequent landslides.

The dyke on the right bank of Da River in the mountainous district of Ba Vi is eroding, threatening the historical monument there.

Recently, the dyke in Duong River in Ngoc Thuy Commune, Long Bien District, dense with citizens living in old villages, has become seriously eroded.

According to Do Duc Thinh, head of Hanoi’s municipal flood and storm control and dyke management, the breach is one kilometer long, endangering the lives of around 134 families.

Meanwhile, on both banks of Day River in Vien Noi Commune, Ung Hoa District, the 1.3-kilometer dyke is also badly eroded, destroying farm produce of more than 400 families.

The dyke of Bui River, a branch of the Day River, in Huu Van Commune, Chuong My District, is facing the same situation.

Currently, hundreds of meters of the dyke on its right bank are worn away, leading to cracks appearing in residents’ houses.

Similar to Hanoi, other Northern provinces are having dyke troubles. Although local governments organize campaigns for strengthening dykes before each flood season, such campaigns are merely for form’s sake with no long-term practical results.

As fragile as sea dykes

Northerners’ concerns are not only about river dykes, many are worried about sea dykes – the first and foremost defense against hurricanes.

In Nam Dinh Province, the dyke is 93 kilometers long and has three cracked parts after the fifth hurricane in 2005, as well as various critically ravaged sections.

The dyke of Bui River, broken in the exceptional floods in 2008 that swamped three communes of Chuong My District, Ha Noi is being strengthened (Photo: SGGP)

Despite being given a budget to repair the problem in 2005, only 19 kilometers has been finished, said Mr. Do Van Khanh, head of Nam Dinh municipal flood and storm control and dyke management.

More than 20 kilometers of the dyke, which directly faces the sea in the districts of Nghia Hung, Hai Hau, Giao Thuy, is poorly maintained, with the remaining 40 kilomteres being very old an unlikely to withstand a strong hurricane. 

Nguyen Xuan Dieu, the director of the municipal flood and storm control and dyke management, said the reason behind this is the fairly slow speed of budget disbursement.

After the exceptional floods in September 2005, the Government agreed to spend VND10 billion to upgrade and protect sea dykes in two phases: phase one is from the Northern province of Quang Ninh to the Central province of Quang Nam; phase two is from the Central province of Quang Ngai to the Southern province of Kien Giang.

However, just over 180 kilometers of dyke have been improved, with around 1400 kilometers of dyke left to be repaired. The total cost is about VND2 trillion.

While the disbursement process is quite slow, the erosion of dykes, especially in Hai Phong and Nam Dinh, is quite quick due to such activities as the deforesting of mangrove swamps, deforesting of wind breaker trees and expanding tourist areas.
 
Particularly, because of sea encroachment, waves are now touching the dyke footing of Giao Thuy and Hai Hau Districts, with gravely eroded parts being seen.

Discussing the matter, the deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dao Xuan Hoc, said that because of the limited budget, the Government gives priority to cracking and eroded parts, as well as critical areas of dykes.

Nevertheless, in the near future, when money is released from the Government’s stimulus package, the budget will increase, hastening projects.

The deputy minister predicted the North’s dyke system will be complete by 2010.

By Phuc Hau - Translated by Thanh Tam

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