HCM City to spend $1.3b to clear inner-city slums along canals

Update: November, 23/2021 - 11:04


A slum along the Văn Thánh canal in Bình Thạnh District. The city aims to relocate all inner-city slums along its canals by 2025. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp

HCM CITY — HCM City authorities will spend more than VNĐ28.4 trillion (US$1.3 billion) to relocate all inner-city slums along its canals as part of its scheme to beautify urban landscapes along canals by 2025, said a city official.

Lê Hòa Bình, vice chairman of municipal People’s Committee, said the city’s urban beautification scheme would be categorised into three groups of projects over the next five years.

The first group of three projects would relocate a total of 3,220 shacks at a total investment of VNĐ12.53 trillion.

The second group of 14 projects would relocate 3,250 shacks on or along canals at a total investment of VNĐ5.543 trillion.

The third group of 30 projects would relocate 7,282 houses along canals at an investment of VNĐ10.362 trillion.

The city of 13 million people has tried to beautify its canals and urban landscape for more than two decades but little has been done, according to the Construction Department.

Between 2016 and 2020, the city planned to relocate more than 20,000 shacks along its canals. However, only 7,260 of them have been relocated.

It attributed the lagging schedule to a lack of funds, which were instead funnelled into major projects to tackle traffic congestion and flooding.

The department recently asked the city to allocate more than VNĐ9 trillion to resettle households living along the southern banks of the Đôi canal in District 8 where the highest number of shacks exist. 

District 8 has 12,369 shacks where 50,000 people live. Of these, 6,400 are on shore and nearly 4,000 are partly on shore and on the canal. 

About 2,000 shacks on shore are in desperate need of relocation, according to the department.

Private investment

Experts say the city has faced great challenges calling for investment in relocating shacks on or along its canals. 

Unattractive resettlement policies have caused real estate firms to show little interest in the projects. Also, the city does not have enough public land of great value to investors.

Lê Hoàng Châu, chairman of HCM City Real Estate Association (HoREA), said that large-scale relocation plan would require huge capital resources, while State funds and private capital remain limited.

Between 25,000 and 30,000 households live in slums along the canals, mostly in districts 4, 7, 8 and Bình Thạnh.

To relocate them, the city would need up to 30,000 apartments for resettlement and 15,000-20,000 apartments for commercial sale for investors to recover capital, he said.

The city is inviting bids to select an investor for six projects with a total of 6,630 units, including a project on the south bank of the Đôi canal with 5,055 units with total capital of about VNĐ13 trillion.

The city should issue policies to attract investors, experts have urged. It is vital to create a large commercial land fund, and then auction it for money to build quality infrastructure and housing for resettled residents and commercial purposes.

Huỳnh Thanh Khiết, deputy director of the city Department of Construction, said the main problem with the programme to relocate houses along the canals was the compensation policy for the affected households. 

He recommended that the city come up with better policies for compensation and resettlement for affected households.

Most of the shacks on or along the canals have been illegally built and lack basic living conditions. Wastewater is discharged directly into the canal, increasing pollution in the area.

Many of these shacks can be seen along Đôi Canal near the Y-shaped Bridge or Nguyễn Tri Phương Bridge in District 5. 

On an alley on Phạm Thế Hiển in District 8, many shacks have been built on canals where water is black and putrid.

Thousands of locals are living in such slums without electricity, clean water or fire protection. — VNS