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Dredging delay puts orchards in danger

Update: March, 27/2012 - 10:01

HCM CITY — Delays in a project to dredge upstream sections of the Ba Lai River in southern Ben Tre Province have hindered traffic circulation and flooded local orchards, creating a lot of difficulties for residents.

The project, which began in 2008, covers a 25-km stretch of the river. It aims to improve water supply for daily life and irrigation in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province's Chau Thanh, Ba Tri and Binh Dai districts. However, just one of 11 sections has been completed over more than three years.

At the site, concrete bridges have been demolished and replaced by temporary bamboo bridges, hindering circulation of vehicles. Nguyen Huu Tho, chairman of Tien Long Commune in Chau Thanh District said temporary bridges that replaced three key bridges in the commune were in a state of serious disrepair and posed a danger to residents.

Project managers have closed drainage mouths open to the river, blocking water flow and flooding local orchards. Ta Ngoc My, an orange grower in Phu Tuc Commune said orange trees on 4ha have died because of the flooding.

The problem is the same in adjacent orchards. Farmers say that if the block remains until the rainy season, all trees in their orchards are likely to die.

According to the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the project requires an investment of VND303 billion (US$14 million) but just VND175 billion ($8 million) has been disbursed.

Apart from the shortage of capital, several contractors have worsened the problem by not employing sufficient workers and equipment to get the work done, the department says. — VNS

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