Expert blames poor planning for parking lot back outs

TN News

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A construction expert has blamed inexperienced planning for the cancellation of six out of eight planned Ho Chi Minh City underground parking lot projects, the latest of which was cancelled last month.

"The city had chosen eight spots to construct underground parking lots when it was yet to have an aggregate zoning map [of the sites]," Nguyen Van Quang of the construction consultant APAVE Vietnam & Southeast Asia said.

"Subsequent plans to construct metro lines disrupted the projects," he said.

The municipal administration in 2004 had approved a plan to construct eight underground car parks to solve the lack of parking downtown. The projects were planned for Lam Son Square; Chi Lang, Bach Tung Diep and Le Van Tam parks; Hoa Lu and Tao Dan stadia; Nguyen Hue Boulevard and 116 Nguyen Du Street.

However, six projects have been cancelled (the latest one was cancelled on February 20), one is struggling to acquire legal documentation, while only one project, Chi Lang Park parking lot, is under construction.

In the latest case, HCMC authorities last month withdrew project approval for the underground parking lot at Bach Tung Diep Park, saying the five-story underground structure would affect the surrounding structures, including the History Museum, the General Science Library and a 300- year-old tree at the site.

Most of the projects were stuck because of a lack of aggregate zoning both on the ground and underground, Quang said.

Nguyen Thi Bao Quynh, deputy director of Dong Duong Company, investor of the cancelled project at Lam Son Square, said this was the first time that underground parking lots were being constructed in the country.

She said her company had followed construction criteria from Japan and South Korea, and had to modify plans several times before the approval was withdrawn. The company's claim for US$1.4 million damages from the cancellation in December 2008 was rejected in a Ho Chi Minh City court.

Complicated procedures

Le Tuan, chairman of the Investment Development for Underground Space Inc. (IUS), said they had worked on the procedures to construct the underground parking lot at Le Van Tam Park for six years.

He said they had completed their Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract on March 19 but were still waiting for an investment license from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Under the BOT model, ownership of an asset reverts to the government after a set period of time.

Tuan said there was still more to do before IUS could break ground for the project, including signing a contract to hire land and acquiring a construction permit, although the start of construction is scheduled this year.

The HCMC People's Committee had originally given the project approval in July 2003.

In another case, Dong Duong Company had spent four years doing the planning and paperwork to construct the underground parking lot at Lam Son Square, before it was cancelled on July 7 last year.

The company Deputy Director Quynh said they had completed 200 documents since the original approval in September 2004.

She complained the company had spent VND30 billion ($1.69 million) as required by the procedures, excluding payment for their staff and advance payment to the constructor.

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