Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — In HCM City, there are 474 severely degraded apartment buildings that threaten the lives and properties of their occupants, authorities said.
“Many old apartments, which were built before 1975, when the city was liberated from the US-backed administration, are in disrepair and in urgent need of renovation or replacement,” Lê Văn Khoa, deputy chairman of the city People’s Council, said in a talk show on “Old apartments renovation” on HCM City Television on Monday.
The 474 apartment blocks were assessed for quality, with all measuring below 55 per cent, and listed as dangerous.
“Most of them could collapse any time,” Huỳnh Quang Tâm of the city’s Fire Fighting and Prevention Police Department said.
“There are no emergency exits or fire safety equipment.”
Districts 5 and 10 account for the highest number of these buildings, most of them located in populous areas.
In District 5, 206 buildings built before 1975 remain in use, some of them as old as 60 years.
Lê Quốc Tuấn, deputy chairman of the district People’s Committee, said, “93 of them have been examined and the remaining will be assessed later this year.”
District 10 has 40 apartments in serious disrepair, including ones built in the early 1970s like Ngô Gia Tự, Ấn Quang and Nguyễn Kim.
District 1 has 86, including Cô Giang with four blocks and 750 units, which was built in 1964 and is now in imminent danger of collapse.
“The city People’s Committee has agreed to renovate four old apartment buildings, so in District 1 we still have 82 apartments with 24,167 people", Đoàn Ngọc Hải, deputy chairman of the district People’s Committee, said.
Authorities have studied and decided which apartments need to be rebuilt first and are looking for investors.
Tuấn said there are plans to offer occupants apartments elsewhere and replace the razed buildings with modern apartment towers.
Trần Trọng Tuấn, director of the city Department of Construction, said the city targets to rebuild 50 per cent of the 474 decrepit apartments by 2020.
“This year the city will finish assessing old apartments and subsequently local authorities will draw up plans to upgrade and rebuild.”
To resolve the issue, the city has come up with many policies like giving district authorities greater rights to grant construction licences, publicly announce transparent ground clearance and compensation processes and offer alternate housing to resettle residents.
“If occupants do not have enough money to buy a new apartment, they will be offered social housing,” Khoa said.
He said the programme needs to be carried out carefully with detailed plans and public support.
So far the city has razed 32 old buildings with 208,000sq.m of housing space and built 39 apartment buildings elsewhere with 470,000sq.m to resettle their occupants.
“But they met only a small part of what was needed,” Khoa said.
“The compensation policies have shortcomings that need to be addressed,” Trương Trung Kiên, head of the People’s Council’s urban department, said.
“It is not easy to uproot people from their old homes and relocate them elsewhere to start life from scratch.”
Most people living in old apartment buildings are poor and earn a living in nearby areas, and consigning them to the suburbs would cause them inconvenience, he said.
Kiên said the regulations for evacuating crumbling apartment buildings are not comprehensive and need to be revised to protect the rights of their occupants.
Lê Hoàng Châu, chairman of the HCM City Real Estate Association, said the city must show how investors – who rebuild apartment buildings -- can benefit.
The city never takes up this task itself.
“Now most residents have extended their units and added more rooms, a factor that has also driven investors away,” Châu said.
To speed up replacement of old buildings, he said there should be specific measures to attract investors.
These could be incentives which would make the projects feasible in their eyes, he said.
For years resettlement has remained a tricky issue with residents refusing to evacuate and investors not showing interest in rebuilding old buildings due to the slow nature of the task and low profits.
Negotiations for compensation are usually the main problem for investors.
Policies to encourage residents to move out are not effective and it usually takes many years to evacuate crumbling apartment buildings. Authorities face severe resistance while attempting to move out residents who are generally dissatisfied with the compensation. – VNS