HCMC man demands trial against 'green' barriers

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A Ho Chi Minh City resident, believed to be the first citizen to file a lawsuit against a prolonged public roadwork for affecting his business, has asked the city People's Court to set time for a trial.

Nguyen Van Lang, 80, of District 1 said the court promised him to open a trial "as soon as possible" after he first filed the lawsuit two years ago, but they gave no specific date.

Lang claimed his health condition may not allow him to pursuit the lawsuit to any length.

In October 2009, Lang filed against the Department of Transport and a construction company for erecting barriers in front of his house-cum-restaurant, thus causing losses to his business.

He demanded compensation of VND360 million (US$17,000) for blocking access to his eatery and causing his house to sink by building nearby.

Lang ran a restaurant in the front part of his house in District 1 since 2001. Business went smoothly until early 2005 when Chinese contractor, TMEC CHEC 3, erected barriers close to his front door for a sewage roadwork as part of a project to improve drainage in the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal basin.

The barriers were removed in early 2007, put up again later that year and only removed in late 2009.

Lang said the barriers obstructed access to his restaurant for 42 months, costing him VND6 million from the restaurant's profit each month.

His family of 15 lives by the restaurant's income, he added.

After Lan filed the lawsuit with the District 1 People's Court, his papers were transferred to the HCMC People's Court because the district court refused to handle it.

The HCMC People's Court took over the case last August. It organized a "mediation" meeting between the plaintiff and the Chinese contractor three months later but no compromises were made.

The court blamed the delay on the Chinese contractor, who said they could not show up at the trial without the mandate of the mother company in China.

The People's Court said it is the first time that a city dweller has filed against the municipal trasnport department over barriers.

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