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Disjointed Drainage, Trash-Filled Canals Make Tan Son Nhat Prone to Flooding

With great summer showers comes great flooding.

Saigon is a frequent victim of flooding every rainy season due to inefficient drainage systems whose development hasn't kept up with rapid urbanization. Many Saigoneers might still be traumatized by the downpour in 2016 that turned local streets into river rapids or the historic deluge caused by Typhoon Usagi in November last year.

As the city is entering this year’s rainy months, municipal officials are concerned about Tan Son Nhat International Airport’s capability to handle a freak bout of rainwater like during the aforementioned storms. Recently, Saigon officials inspected the airport’s internal drainage system and other water channels in the neighborhood, Dan Tri reports.

According to Vice Chairman of Tan Binh District People’s Committee Hua Quoc Hung, the situation leaves much to be desired. Tan Son Nhat has occasionally been inundated before, and Hung attributed this to the airport’s convoluted and disjointed drainage network. In recent years, 10 contractors have undertaken drainage projects on the airport's grounds, but these are all disconnected and thus ineffective in handling water.

Moreover, the companies didn’t cooperate with local authorities to connect them to existing infrastructure outside the airport. Hence, while Tan Son Nhat is on higher ground than surrounding wards, it’s still vulnerable to backflow because the ends of the drains are lower than external drains.

Other than internal inconsistencies, the trip by officials also found that external problems are also contributing to the airport’s flooding woes. Three nearby canals, the area’s natural drainage routes for decades, are currently inhabited by piles of trash discarded by nearby households. The A41 Channel used to be 3.5 meters deep, Thanh Nien reports, but now there are sections that are not even 0.5 meters deep.

The newspaper explains that there are plans to dredge and widen these water channels, but progress is lagging behind due to administrative reasons. A project to upgrade the A41 Channel was approved in 2016 and construction was supposed to start in 2017 and be finished in 2018, but site clearance still hasn’t been completed.

[Photo/CC BY]

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