|Doctors fill containers with clean water from containers at General Hospital 198 after the Da River pipeline ruptured. Colonel La Van Hanh from the hospital said that the water shortage had affected nearly 900 patients and 800 employees at the hospital. —Photo thanhnien.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — Ha Noi's People's Committee has urged the Prime Minister to build a water pipeline from Highway 21 to Ring Road 3 to meet local residents' need for clean water.
The pipeline, with a capacity between 60,000 and 70,000cu.m, will support the existing pipeline and requires total investment of some VND864 billion (US$38.2 million) in loans from the city's development fund.
The Viet Nam Construction Import-Export Joint Stock Corporation spent VND1.5 trillion ($66.7 million) on the old pipeline, which began delivering clean water from the Da River Water Factory in the neighbouring province of Hoa Binh to six Ha Noi districts in late 2008.
The pipeline, still in its first phase, runs for 47km and has the capacity to supply 300,000cu.m of water per day.
Construction work for the second phase of the project, or the upgrading of Da River's clean water supply, was scheduled to begin in August, with investment capital of VND4.9 trillion ($218 million), but work has not yet begun.
Once the second phase of the project is completed, the water supply capacity of the pipeline will rise from 300,000cu.m to 600,000cu.m per day.
Over the past four years, the pipeline transporting clean water from the Da River Water Plant in the northern province of Hoa Binh to Ha Noi broke or leaked 15 times. Two directors of Vinaconex were arrested for investigation on the poor quality of the water pipeline.
Breakdowns have occurred more often this year. The latest incident took place last Saturday, when part of the pipeline in Thach That District broke at 3am.
More than a thousand patients at two hospitals in the city had been suffering from the sudden water shortage for about five days.
Although the water supply has been resumed to these two hospitals, the flow is reportedly weak.
Colonel La Van Hanh, head of the Administration Department of the General Hospital 198 said that the water shortage was affecting nearly 900 patients and 800 employees at the hospital.
"The amount of water is only about 200 cubic metres per day while the demand of the hospital is about 500 cubic metres per day," he said, adding that many patients had to queue up and bring bottles to store water for use.
"The water supply is less and weaker after every rupture of the pipelines," he added.
At the Ha Noi Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in the city, hundreds of patients and their relatives had a limited amount of water for their hygiene.
Nga, a relative of a patient who had a premature baby, said that the water resumed at noon on Wednesday this week, but there wasn't enough water to take a bath.
"Now, there is enough water," she said.
Do Thi Minh Nguyet, head of the hospital's Administration Department said that this was a terrible experience for both doctors and patients.
The water shortage lasted for four days – the longest ever – and its 400 cubic-metre-reservoir, the only water storage the hospital had, ran out after three days.
Nguyet said the hospital must prioritise water for emergency areas, including the medical operation and delivery departments. In other departments the water supply had to be restricted.
After the hospital complained to the Viet Nam Clean Water Investment and Construction Corporation (Viwaco), the water supply returned to normal.
Dao Quang Minh, deputy director of the Dong Da Clean Water Company said that five water containers were transported to the hospital to solve the problem.
Explaining why only two hospitals were affected by the pipeline rupture, Minh said that other hospitals such as Bach Mai, Viet-France and Peadiatrics were equipped with a system to pump water from wells and filter it before use.
Minh said that the company had worked to build its own water plants to have its own water supply source by 2018.
Hanh of General Hospital 198 said that the hospital was working with Viwaco to set up a water outlet to supply more water to the hospital.
The project worth about VND1 billion ($44,490) from the State budget, is scheduled to begin construction after getting approval from authorised agencies.
A shortage of clean water caused by broken water pipelines has also affected the lives of more than 70,000 households in several parts of Ha Noi - Thanh Xuan, Hoang Mai, Ha Dong, Dong Da, Tu Liem, Cau Giay.
Nguyen Thi Mui, 75, who lives in Thanh Cong quarter, said that her family of six adults and two children were suffering terribly.
"The lack of clean water completely disordered our daily lives. We had to eat out since we had no water for cooking. The worst part was travelling to our relative's house for a shower," she said.
Sometimes, family members went without bathing for several days as it was inconvenient for eight members to ask to take a shower at their relative's house.
Her family also had to drive far to eat since nearby vendors had to suspend operations due to lack of water.
Pham Khanh Linh, a freshman at Ha Noi Law University from Hai Duong Province, had to leave school and go back to her hometown when the clean water was suspended.
"I don't have any relatives here to ask for help. I could not afford to eat out and I had nowhere to get a shower. It negatively affected my life and my studies," Linh said.
Many of her friends had to do the same thing.
Tran Ngoc Thin, 40, who moved to Thanh Cong quarter two years ago, sold his apartment due to the clean water shortage. Now, his four-member family temporarily lives in a rented house in Giang Vo street.
What worried him most when his family went through several water shortages was his three-year-old child's health.
"My child got a rash all over her body due to missing her daily bath, especially during summer heat," he said.
Water issues also disrupted his life and business, a small motorbike washing service, costing him VND400,000 (nearly US$20) per day. — VNS