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As Rainy Season Arrives, Saigon Major Flood Barrier Project Stalls

Work has halted on a massive US$440 million drainage system aimed to control tidal flooding that impacts 6.5 million residents in a 570-square-kilometer area in and around south Saigon.

Trung Nam BT 1547 Co Ltd, the company tasked with construction, claimed that the HCMC government failed to sign the necessary paperwork allowing the Saigon branch of the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to disburse needed capital. The project, which began in June 2016 and was set for completion in June 2019, is allegedly 70% complete. Later-than-expected land clearance also contributed to the suspension of work. If the process had gone according to schedule, a test would have been performed at the start of the month.

Spanning districts 1, 4, 7, 8, Nha Be and Binh Chanh, the project consists of six large floodgates which are 40-160 meters wide, several pump stations and a dike along a 7.8-kilometer section of the Saigon River. Already 300 homes and more than 1,500 people have been relocated to allow for construction.

The project aims to address tidal waters that overflow current embankments and flood neighborhoods, stalling vehicle engines and damaging buildings. Nguyen Van Phuong, a resident in District 7 claims that last year some areas in her neighborhood around Tran Xuan Soan Street were under half a meter of water.

The devastation caused by flooding has increased in recent years across the country, including massive devastation in the wake of Typhoon Damrey which claimed 44 lives and damaged 40,000 houses. The flooding can be traced to global climate change, rapid urbanization and poor water management including hydroelectric development.

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