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Protracted sidewalk repairs irk HCMC residents   2008-11-24 - Tuoi Tre

The pavement on Tran Quang Khai Street in District 1 is dug up for repair as part of the city’s efforts to improve its landscape  
Work to improve street pavements in Ho Chi Minh City has angered residents who feel they are being forced to bear the costs while many shop owners rail that the drawn-out projects have chased customers away.



District officials say efforts to give sidewalks a facelift are meant to improve the aesthetics of the city, but many locals see more trouble than what it’s worth.

Residents living along Ham Nghi and Nguyen Thong streets in HCMC’s downtown area have had to pay parts of the cost to repair sidewalks which are still in good condition. Moreover, store owners have seen their business decline due to the public works hindering customers’ inflow during the end-of-year shopping season.

The situation is similar on Tran Quang Khai Street in District 1’s Tan Dinh Ward, where piles of rocks and sand have been blocking the entrance to many stores since the beginning of this month.

A person running a store on the street, identified only as T.V.L., said trade has slowed tremendously.

He said ward officials recently informed him that his family would have to pay nearly VND5 million (US$295) as “half” of the cost to repair the pavement in front of his store.

“They just told us and didn’t care if we agree to it or not,” L. said.

Another shop owner in the area blamed workers for breaking a sewage pipeline while digging up the old pavement.

The owner said she and other residents had asked the workers to fix the problem but “they told us to wait and then ignored us.” Locals ended up having to spend nearly VND2 million ($118) to repair the drain.

Nguyen Thanh Danh, chairman of Tan Dinh Ward, said the pavement along Tran Quang Khai Street is uneven and thus ward authorities decided to invest VND5 billion ($295,333) to fix more than 1,000 meters of the sidewalk “together with residents.”

Danh said the ward had set the project budget in January, but when construction material prices skyrocketed afterwards, “we couldn’t find any contractor.”

The ward chairman promised that the pavement work would be finished by the Lunar New Year holidays, which begins on January 26, 2009.

In several other cases, sidewalk rehabilitation has conflicted with other public work projects causing longer delays and even incurring greater costs.

The pavement along District 3’s Tran Quang Dieu Street, which had cost around VND647 million ($38,216) to repair in late February, was partially damaged in March by a city drainage project after workers dug up the road to install pipelines.

The newly built pavement along Nguyen Thong Street in Ward 9 of District 3 was wrecked in a similar manner, said ward deputy head Tran Thi Huong. The local administration is still waiting for the drainage project contractor to compensate for the damages caused.

Huong said sidewalk renovation has lower priority than other municipal public works projects and that’s why parts of the dug-up pavement along Tran Quoc Thao and Ly Chinh Thang streets in District 3 have yet to be tiled.

The drainage project on those streets was expected to be completed by November 15 but it just dragged on, she said.

With more than 20 new street barriers set up in September, there are now a total of 234 barriers in the city erected for drainage, water supply and street widening projects.

Pham Huu Quy, head of District 1’s Urban Management Department, said as soon as sidewalk overhaul begins “someone would be affected.”

District 1 plans to repair the pavements along 18 streets from October to December this year, and renovate 77 more sidewalks until the end of 2010.

Le Thanh Quoc, deputy head of District 3’s Urban Management Department, said although many projects are being carried out simultaneously on the city streets, “the pavement work cannot be canceled according to the city’s policy.”

Pavement improvement around the city center has to be finished by the end of 2010, Quoc said, adding that sidewalk work in most districts was planned since the beginning of the year but was only launched recently due to red tape.

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