Saigon canals choked up by invasive residents, companies: report

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A boy rides past the Cau Bong Canal in Binh Thanh District on October 5. Houses have been built all over the canal. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre/Quang Dinh A boy rides past the Cau Bong Canal in Binh Thanh District on October 5. Houses have been built all over the canal. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre/Quang Dinh

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Illegal construction activities have encroached upon half of the waterways in Ho Chi Minh City, obstructed the flows and made the city more vulnerable to flooding, a new report said.
HCMC Urban Drainage Company said that the problem is happening to 54 of the 110 rivers and canals that it is managing.
It said city officials have been informed of the issue but they "have failed to take any action to stop it."
Along a canal in the northwestern district of Go Vap, which has seen a very fast rate of urbanization, many houses have been built since 2000, destroying its embankments.
Local residents said the canal used to be clean but is now black and smelly, and water would overflow the roads nearby during heavy rain. 
Some businesses have also invaded the waterways. 
In Nha Be District, state-owned fuel distributor Petrolimex Saigon has filled up a section of a 20-meter-wide canal to build storage facilities since 2013. 
Officials learned about it in December 2014 after locals complained, but they have not done anything to solve the problem, the drainage company said in its report.
Many streets running along encroached canals in the city have become flooding hot spots. 
Le Huy Ba, former director of an environment science institute at Ho Chi Minh University of Industry, said Binh Thanh District is the perfect example of how canal encroachment can worsen flooding.
The district has eight canals in the list of vulnerable waterways and it is one of the most flood-prone districts in the city, despite various flood prevention efforts.
Many roads in the district were submerged by up to one meter when it rained heavily on September 15. 
An official from the city’s finance department said in a recent meeting that the city has spent a lot of money on anti-flooding projects.
“But flooding will continue until we stop the filling up of canals,” the official said, as cited by Tuoi Tre.

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