Red tape slows pace for parking lots in Vietnam metro

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A roadway in Ho Chi Minh City serves as a parking lot.

Significant swaths of in Ho Chi Minh City real estate has been designated to host underground parking lots but red tape has prevented most of them from being built.

The delay has not only been a burden to drivers, but also to the investors forced to wait, amid of accelerating prices, for paperwork to clear so that work can begin.

A major underground parking lot approved by the city government made no progress after its groundbreaking in August 2010, the news website VnExpress said in a report Sunday.

Le Tuan, general director of the city-based Underground Space Investment and Development Company that invested in the project, said the company is waiting to receive the land use rights from the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The right is a basic requirement the company must obtain in order to acquire other necessary permits.

Tuan said the company has spent entirely too much time dealing with paperwork. He has had to wait for months for replies from city departments for each paper he has submitted, often only to find out that the departments had only decided that the form had to be forwarded to higher agencies. 

As time passes without progress made, inflation continues to raise the total investment.

"Each year, the construction prices have increased by 10-15 percent, so the expected investment has surged from $60 million to more than $200 million in the eight years since the project was organized, which means the company has been losing $2 million a month," he said.

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The five-story,6.2 hectare car lot under Le Van Tam Park in District 1 was the first underground parking structure approved by the city.

However, due to the lag in paperwork, all machines and workers have been withdrawn from the site, which was once expected to accommodate 28 buses and trucks, 1,250 cars and more than 2,000 motorbikes by 2013.

Another project on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street has also been quiet since being approved in February 2010.

A representative from the project investor, Dong Duong Corporation, said he does not know when the project will get underway.

Ever since being approved, the company has been waiting for the city Finance Department and the Ministry of Construction to determine the land lease rates.

The parking lot was designed to have 12 floors, nine of which would be 23 meters underground.

Figures from the city revealed six other underground parking lots waiting to start construction.

Some projects have been canceled as nearby construction rendered them unsafe.

Making the situation more urgent is the general lack of parking in HCMC, which has more than 4.5 million motorbikes and 500,000 cars and registers an average of an additional 1,000 motorbikes and 100 cars everyday, according figures from to the city People's Committee.

Parking lots also made headlines in Hanoi recently when the capital government tried to stop cars from parking on the street without providing alternative spaces.

While the country's biggest cities are struggling with the issue, hopes are high in the central region hub Da Nang, which just passed a plan to invest in three underground parking lots.

Da Nang's government said it will seek private sponsors so that work at three locations could begin in July below a restaurant on September 2 Street, a park on Dien Bien Phu Street and at the T-junction connecting Tran Cao Van, Ong Ich Khiem and Dong Da Streets.

Da Nang currently has nearly 3,600 cars and 600,000 motorbikes, with the numbers doubling nearly every five years, according to the city government.

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