City evacuates crumbling apartments

Update: June, 12/2014 - 08:11
A degraded building in HCM City's District 10. Many local residents who live in degraded buildings go to sleep each night scared that their buildings could collapse at any time. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai

HCM CITY (VNS) — Residents living in two degraded apartment buildings in HCM City's Binh Thanh District will be relocated to new homes that are the same or bigger than their existing premises.

This is one of the solutions Binh Thanh District's People's Committee has suggested to speed up the removal of old apartment buildings and resettle affected residents.

Vice chairman of the People's Committee, Duong Hong Thang, said that 299 residential apartments were built in the 1960s, and had been gradually deteriorating for decades.

He said that in 1996, the Sai Gon Construction Quality Assessment Company reported that two blocks were subsiding, and urged for them to be evacuated.

For years, resettlement issues had been the main stumbling block, and investors were not interested in rebuilding old buildings due to slow land clearance and low profits.

The new policy offered accommodation for residents as soon as they moved from out of the apartments, he said.

Residents who wanted to continue living in the blocks after they were rebuilt would be given money to find temporary accommodation, Thang said.

So far, 276 out of 299 households living in the two blocks have agreed to move.

A resident in Block IV of the Thanh Da Apartment Building, Nguyen Thi Hoa, said that her family was happy to hear about the resettlement policy.

"We have lived in the apartment for over ten years with the fear of the building collapsing every night," she said.

Another resident, Trieu Xuan Xanh, said that because the apartments were scheduled for demolition or renovation, residents were not allowed to fix water or waste pipes.

Vice chairman of the People's Committee in District 10, Nguyen Duc Trong, said that a shortage of funding and inadequate compensation policies were the main reasons for delays to the project.

Director of the city's Construction Department, Tran Trong Tuan, told Nhan dan (The People) newspaper that the city planned to expand the resettlement policy in Binh Thanh District.

The city planned to offer incentives for investors to renovate old buildings, including exemption on corporate tax and value added tax for five years, and from land use and land lease fees.

According to the Construction Department, HCM City had more than 1,200 apartment buildings, 570 of which were built before 1975 and in degraded conditions.

During 2014-15, the city planned to tear down 70 old buildings which house over 7,249 apartments, but so far only 38 have been demolished due to delays in land clearance and compensation settlements. — VNS