Downtown HCMC to restrict high-rise development

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Ho Chi Minh City will restrict the licensing of downtown high-rise building projects from now until the end of this year, announced the city's People's Council after a meeting Wednesday.


The resolution was made after representatives voiced their concerns Tuesday that skyscrapers were being built across the southern metro's center without careful planning and giant buildings were worsening traffic in several areas.


Representative Ngo Minh Hong, director of the HCMC Department of Justice, said many buildings were located on small streets that were too narrow to carry the heavy amount of traffic now flowing through them.


"What criteria did the department [of Planning and Architecture] use to consider these construction projects?" she said.


Huynh Cong Hung, deputy chief of the economic and budget committee under the People's Council, cited the fact that Le Thanh Ton and Ly Tu Trong streets were narrow and usually crowded during rush hour due to the large number of people using massive buildings on the streets.


There is no space for pedestrians and or parking on said streets because of the traffic, according to Hung.


However, director of the Department of Planning and Architecture, Tran Chi Dung, and Nguyen Tan Ben, director of the Department of Construction, denied the allegations, saying that all projects were approved in accordance with the city's zoning and architechtural regulations.


According to Ben, since 2008 the city has granted licenses to 104 high-rise projects, including 71 in the central districts of 1 and 3.


Debt adjustment


Also at the meeting, representative Truong Trong Nghia said the southern hub could incurr huge debts, as some of its official development loan projects are needing more money than planned.


The first of six metro rail lines to be launched in HCMC is projected to cost US$2.3 billion, while the city has only planned $900 million in funding, Nghia said, stressing that the investment amount is very likely to soar again when the construction starts.


Thai Van Re, director of the Department of Planning and Investment, did his best to rebuff Nghia by attributing the increases to design adjustments and inflation.


Game concerns 


Le Hoang Quan, chairman of HCMC People's Committee, ordered the Department of Information and Communications to find a way to restrict access to 43 online games that it categorized as "violent".


The order was made at the meeting in response to representatives who said such games were "plaguing" the city's youth.


The proposed measures will be submitted to the municipal authorities for approval and enforced this month, Quan said.


The department should also submit to the council, which acts as the legislature, a long-term plan to manage all games in the city, he added.


In the meantime, representatives rejected reports that Vietnam will miss out on tens of millions of dollars in profit each year if the government restricts or bans online games.


Vietnam doesn't need money that children steal to play games, said Le Manh Ha, director of the Department of Information and Communications.

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