Maybe, just maybe, Ho Chi Minh City can become flood-free in 2020

By Pham Huu - Dinh Muoi, Thanh Nien News

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 People struggle with their vehicles on heavily flooded Nguyen Huu Canh Street, District 1 on September 15, 2015. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach
In the wake of unprecedented flooding on Tuesday that brought chaos to many streets around Ho Chi Minh City, local officials are still not sure if the problem can be prevented in the future. 
Do Tan Long, a senior official with the center for managing the HCMC's flood prevention program, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the city still has a chance to avoid flooding if it manages to finish all the drainage projects planned for the next five years. 
But if rainfall exceeds estimates, the city will still be flooded, he said. 
Long said the city has improved its drainage capacity since 2011. The downpour on Tuesday, however, was unexpected, he said, blaming it on climate change. 
Up to 142 millimeters of rain poured down for two hours, the worst since 2008, while the drainage system can only handle 85 millimeters of rain for three hours, he said. 
Although the official claimed HCMC has "resources" to invest in more anti-flooding projects, a recent report released by the city's legislature showed that it is lacking over US$2.92 billion, or 65 percent of the money needed for such projects. 
Speaking to Thanh Nien, Pham Sanh, a HCMC-based transport expert, said even if the city's authorities can find enough funding for their flood prevention projects, he is not sure that they will be able to solve the problem.
Sanh said authorities have yet to pinpoint the real reasons why the flooding problem persists regardless of a lot of efforts and money so far. 
Authorities need to review the effectiveness of drainage projects they have been working on, instead of blaming on the weather, he said.
Sanh said official often take pride in the number of flood-prone spots they managed to reduce over the years. What they did were moving those spots around the city because they did not deal with the problem at its roots, he said. 

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