Hoi An anti-flooding project threatens 50 historic houses

By Trinh Nguyen, Thanh Nien News

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The construction of an embankment along the Hoai River in Hoi An is underway. Photo: Hoang Son The construction of an embankment along the Hoai River in Hoi An is underway. Photo: Hoang Son

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Around 50 ancient houses in the ancient town of Hoi An are at risk of collapsing due to construction activities as part of a major river embankment project that aims to prevent serious flooding in the area. 
The 800-meter embankment along the Hoai River is set to replace the one that was built by the French and has been deteriorating for the last decade. 
The central government allocated more than VND50 billion (US$2.2 million) to Quang Nam Province to finance the project, which began at the end of last year. 
But the owners of around 50 centuries-old houses near the construction site said the project is more of a curse than a blessing. 
They said cracks had appeared on the walls and the floors of their houses. Some of the cracks measure up to five meters in length.
The residents have reported their concerns to local authorities.
Nguyen The Hung, deputy chairman of the Hoi An People’s Committee, told Thanh Nien the contractor had been aware of the impacts that the project would make on local houses, but they had no choice.
He said local authorities had surveyed the houses and bought insurance for them before going ahead with the project.
He promised that construction workers will try their best to minimize the risks to the houses.
A board of supervisors, including heritage conservationists, has been set up to oversee the project, he said.
Once a popular trade port in the region, Hoi An is now one of the most peaceful towns in Vietnam, drawing tourists to its picturesque wooden houses, pagodas, street-side eateries and hundreds of tailor shops.
The UNESCO recognized Hoi An as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

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