If still following the current urban development programs, HCM City will move in a rut just like Bangkok City’s flooding – Dr Ho Long Phi, Director of Center for Water Management and Climate Change (WACC) gave the warning at the conference reviewing the one-year implementation of the program on reducing flooding in 2011-2015.
In his presentation, Dr Phi cited the figures to show the damages Bangkok incurred in the one-month long biggest flood in the last 60 years. 815 people died, while 13 million people were affected, 930 factories got paralyzed, threatening 600,000 jobs. The total damage was estimated to reach 53 billion dollars, while it would take 72 billion dollars to rebuild the city.
Phi said that if a similar flood occurred in HCM City, the toll would be lower than in Bangkok, because HCM City has not developed in the low land areas, such as district 8. However, the districts 1, 4, 5 and 6 would still suffer.
After the field trip to Bangkok, Phi pointed out the differences and similarities of the two cities in terms of geographical conditions, the capability to prevent and fight against flooding with the systems of dykes, water pump stations, water reservoirs, and drainage system.
After analyzing the current conditions, Phi has put forward two scenarios of HCM City facing the flood.
HCM City’s Deputy Mayor Nguyen Huu Tin emphasized that the principle the city must follow is “minimizing damages, not only minimizing risks.”
Tin said that the city will spend money to build an emergency flood corridor to lower the Saigon River water, set up the agricultural production system adaptable to the conditions of the low land areas, build the houses which could serve as storm shelters for local residents, and install automatic water prevention doors for supermarkets and high rise buildings.
Tin said that in order to speed up the projects, the city’s planning and investment department and the department for interior affairs have to hurry up the works of surveying the field, inviting for bids and arranging capital.
Prior to that, at a workshop discussing how to deal with the flooding in HCM City, Dr Luu Duc Cuong, a senior official of the Ministry of Construction, warned that the flooding in HCM City has become more serious in the last 10 years. Though the city has completed four big projects on water drainage and environment sanitation, the development of the water drainage system still cannot catch up with the rapid urbanization process.
However, Cuong pointed out that climate changes are not the only reason that causes the serious flooding. He stressed that the uncontrollable urbanization should also be seen as a high risk. Research works have found out that 75 percent of the inundated places in HCM City are 2.5 meters higher than the sea water level, while 70 percent of places get inundated with the modest rainfall of 400 mm, no matter how the water level at the Phu An Station on the Saigon river is.
“In order to settle the flooding to the every root, it is necessary to have good urban programming,” Cuong said.
The World Bank, in a document guiding the risk management in city flooding, released one month ago, the risks lie in the poor water drainage system and infrastructure items in big cities. The unreasonable underground water management and the rapid population increase have also been cited as the big problems.
However, the World Bank believes that Vietnam has learned the lessons from other countries in the world, and it could be seen as a good example in dealing with natural calamities.
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