Home News Inspectors request probe into HCMC beltway project

Inspectors request probe into HCMC beltway project

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ImageConstruction Ministry inspectors said Monday they were seeking a permit to investigate a major road project in Ho Chi Minh City to find out why the plans had been modified from the original.

"I don't understand how they [the HCMC administration] could bend a straight road [in the design]," the ministry's chief inspector Pham Gia Yen said.

He said the inspectors would ask for permission from the ministry to investigate the whole project of Tan Son Nhat-Binh Loi beltway,, not just the part that was changed in the plans.

The investigation should reveal the purpose of the modification and which officials of which agencies were responsible, he said, adding that there would be strict measures taken against anyone who had acted illegally to change the plans.

The ministry inspectors several days earlier had requested the HCMC administration to investigate the beltway project modifications, following residents' complaints.

Yen said there had been numerous complaints from residents about a change to the prime minister-approved plan to widen Bach Dang Street in Ward 2 in Tan Binh District into the 60m-wide beltway.

He said Ward 2 residents complained that instead of widening Bach Dang Street and affecting residents there - the city moved 1.5 kilometers of the planned road and split it into two narrower 20m-wide sections - one along Hong Ha Street and through Gia Dinh Park to the south and the other straight through an old residential area.

Yen said there were clear grounds for the residents' complaints.

He said the residents had sent a petition to the ministry, and many had gone to its office to oppose the modification.

The VND8 trillion (US$468 million) project invested in by South Korea's GS Engineering and Construction Company under a build-and-transfer contract is expected to connect HCMC's Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Thu Duc District by 2013.

The 13.7km beltway will start near the airport in Tan Binh District, run through Go Vap and Binh Thanh districts, cross the Saigon River at Binh Loi Bridge, which is currently under construction, and end at the Xuan Hiep crossroads in Thu Duc District.

Unapproved modification

Thanh Nien has obtained documents showing that residents had complained since 2002 to the HCMC People's Committee and the ministry about the modification of the plans for the road.

However, the director of the municipal Department of Transport Tran Quang Phuong had assured them that there had been no such changes and the department's then-deputy director Nguyen Viet Son had said the same in 2004.

In 2007, the city administration reported to the prime minister about a plan to narrow the Bach Dang section of the beltway from 60m down to 20m.

But Thanh Nien investigations showed there had been a decision by the city's chief architect in 1999 to set aside the two different sections, sparing part of Bach Dang Street from being changed into a beltway.

Last August, Phuong told the city's National Assembly delegate about the changes in the plans adding the prime minister had approved them in 2007. However, Thanh Nien found that the 2007 document issued by the PM did not approve the modification.

Questions need to be asked

Phuong said they had to modify the course of the road to limit the number of affected residents, however, it has probably increased the number and caused delays in the site clearance slowing the project.

Nguyen Hong Hai, a resident on Hong Ha Street in Ward 2, said he was suspicious about the reason for the modification, saying there were a lot of new houses along the section of Bach Dang Street originally meant for the beltway that had been legally certified since 1997. He said the change would make those certifications legal.

He also said Phuong had approved the feasibility study of the approved road plan in 1997, but had changed it anyway.

The approved plan would avoid relocating nearly 200 households and several state offices, whereas the road would go through Gia Dinh Park under the alterations, he said.

Phan Phung Sanh, deputy chairman of the HCMC Association of Construction Science and Technology, said there had been complaints because the city administration hadn't informed residents of the modification.

He also said the residents were worried because there had been cases when relevant agencies had modified projects to avoid taking private land that belonged to state officials.



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