Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NAM — Project investors, contractors and sub-contractors of a dredging project in the Cửa Đại Estuary are suspected of “serious violations” with a large volume of sand gone “missing.”
Quảng Nam’s Public Security and Transport departments are collaborating with Hội An City and relevant agencies in investigating reports of illegal sand mining and transport from the Cửa Đại Beach.
The provincial head of secretariat, Nguyễn Hồng Quang told Việt Nam News yesterday that the final conclusions on the sand mining and shipping case will be released soon.
Quang said the project owners, contractors and sub-contractors had committed grave violations in implementing the Cửa Đại estuary dredging project.
The project, which began in January, aimed to dredge 70,000 cubic metres of sand from the Cửa Đại estuary to facilitate passage of boats and re-sanding the badly eroded Cửa Đại Beach.
However, just 16,500 cubic metres had been pumped onto the Cửa Đại beach between January and March 25, and the remaining 50,000 cubic metres are “missing.”
Nguyễn Văn Dũng, Chairman of Hội An People’s Committee, also said that just a fifth of the contracted volume of sand had been deposited on the beach since January.
Dũng said the city had suspended the project in order to find where the huge volume of nearly 50,000 cubic metres of sand had gone.
According to local fishermen, 18 ships were involved in digging sand at the Cửa Đại Estuary and transporting it to the Cửa Đại Beach, but some vessels had illegally shipped sand to another project in Đà Nẵng City.
A source who wished to remain anonymous also told Việt Nam News that a huge contract had been signed by two companies – the Tuấn Sinh Company and Trung Nam company – to mine sand from the Cửa Đại Estuary and deliver it to the sea embankment of the Đa Phước International Urban project in Đà Nẵng.
The contract assigned Tuấn Sinh to dredge and transport a million tonnes of sand from the estuary in Quảng Nam Province to the Đa Phước Urban project. The contract was worth VNĐ60 billion (US$2.65 million).
The Nam Định-based Tuấn Sinh company, which was also involved in the project to dredge the Cửa Đại Estuary and re-sand the Cửa Đại Beach, had used five to 10 ships of 800 cubic metres capacity each to carry sand from February 20 onwards.
In a statement last week, Đà Nẵng City’s Department of Construction said it has decided to suspend work on the coastal Đa Phước Uban Project in downtown Hải Châu District. It cited an incomplete environmental assessment report as one of the reasons, as also the need to investigate the use of sand by the project.
The urban development, planned on 175.9ha on Nguyễn Tất Thành Street, has been said to be the biggest such project in central Việt Nam covering a large sea embankment area.
Investigators are now trying to find out how much sand had been transported and pumped for the Đa Phước Urban project’s sea embankment between February and March.
According to Hội An People’s Committee, the dredging of Cửa Đại Estuary was seen as an urgent measure taken to save the Cửa Đại Beach from erosion after the failure of many others that were tried between 2011-2015.
Many experts had suggested that “beach nourishment” in combination with other measures would help stem erosion of Cửa Đại Beach in the short-term.
A 20ha area of Cửa Đại Beach, 5km from Hội An, was washed away between 2009-2014.
A 1,100m Geotube sandbag dyke, positioned under the water 60m off the beach, could not prevent big waves from crashing onto the beach and washing the sand away.
More than VNĐ80 billion (US$3.6 million) was spent on trying to protect the beach between 2009-2014.
Last year, the Agency for Development of France (AFD) agreed to conduct a 136,000 euro ($327,000) feasibility study of beach nourishment to ascertain its effectiveness as a sustainable protective measure for Cửa Đại Beach. — VNS