World Bank oks $450 mln loan for canal cleanup in HCMC

By Thao Vi, Thanh Nien News

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Workers sail out every morning to collect trash in the Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe Canal. Photo: Thao Vi Workers sail out every morning to collect trash in the Nhieu Loc - Thi Nghe Canal. Photo: Thao Vi

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The World Bank on Tuesday approved US$450 million in loans to Vietnam for the second phase of a major canal cleanup project in Ho Chi Minh City after the first phase has brought life back to the canal's once-moribund state.
The Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal, which runs roughly eight kilometers through seven districts in the city, has seen its waters turn from black to green after the decade-long first phase of the project, which was funded with $248 million worth of loans from the World Bank and $68 million from Vietnam, finished in August 2012.
“The Bank has a long standing and strategic partnership with HCMC. Through this new project (the second phase), the city will be able to address its sanitation challenges in a more cost effective manner and create a city that is clean and competitive,” Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam, said in a statement.
As Vietnam’s economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City contributes to about 20 percent of the country’s total GDP.
“Improved urban sanitation services benefit all citizens, especially the poor. This project will ensure that the poor in the project areas are well served by having household connections to the sewer network,” said Kwakwa.
In the first phase, a 70-kilometer network of drains, culverts and sewers were dug and a pumping station was built near the Ba Son Shipyard to shoot the canal's contents into a massive underground interceptor pipe that emptied out near the western edge of Thu Thiem in District 2.
The second phase will reroute the torrent of untreated wastewater currently flowing into the Saigon River near Thu Thiem Ward to an enormous treatment plant in Thanh My Loi Ward -- on the other side of District 2 -- via a meandering underground pipeline.
“The project promotes better sanitation practices in HCMC and also supports the urban development of the city through improved wastewater management,” Sudipto Sarkar, World Bank Lead Specialist and task team leader, said in a statement.
“Under the project an Environmental Learning Center will be created to raise awareness of sanitation issues and the environment that will benefit the people of the Ho Chi Minh City,” he added.
The second phase will cost $495 million, of which $250 million will be financed through a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a $200 million credit through the International Development Association.
The Ho Chi Minh City government will provide $45 million from its own resources for this phase.

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