Major port project cancelled, displaced businesses demand compensation

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The owners of several tourism projects that were closed by the government in order to build a new port near Mui Ne are now demanding compensation after the port project was cancelled two days ago. 

One invalid former resort owner sent his two sons to demand remuneration from Binh Thuan province authorities for closing his property in 2007 when state-run mining group Vinacomin got approval to build a port on the site.

The port project was cancelled by the local authorities two days ago for inefficiency and for hurting local business.

Nguyen Duc Dang Vu, one of the sons, told Thanh Nien that his family had suffered "very large" losses since the closedown of their The Gioi Xanh resort.

He said his father intended to profit from the business as well as promote coastal tourism but now he has to accept a "sad ending."

His father is not alone in seeking compensation.

Local authorities closed 12 tourism projects after the government green-lighted Vinacomin's proposal to build the port at Mui Ke Ga (Ke Ga Cape) near Binh Thuan's main beach town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam.

The mining group had planned to ship alumina used to make aluminum, taken from a plant nearby, from the new port.

It was not until 2009 the government officially approved the US$1-billion plan. But capital shortages delayed construction and financially-troubled Vinacomin only ended up spending $192,000 on the project.

The money was used as compensation for site clearance while Lao Dong newspaper found that it cost the tourism investors whose properties were closed around $48 million for their 12 projects.

Investors have been filing complaints to the Binh Thuan authorities for causing them losses.

On February 18, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered Vinacomin to cancel the project, saying the port would "fail to achieve [economic] efficiency."

Analysts had remarked earlier that the construction site was unsuitable for a port due to geographic and hydrological factors.

Dung also asked the group to collaborate with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to "deal with" what the tourism investors' sufferings.

Ta Thi Phuong Ly, an investor in two closed projects, said both investors and the province were hit hard by the port project.

"It will be very difficult for us to continue our businesses even when the government returns the ownership of our land, due to our own capital shortages amid the current economic slowdown."

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