Flood Control: Can a New Team of the Same Old Faces Make a Difference?

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has set up a team to coordinate the planning for flood control in the city. The group, authorized in Decision No. 3877, began operating last week.

To learn more, Sai Gon Giai Phong interviewed Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Cong from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the group’s deputy manager, University of Technology lecturer Dr. Ho Long Phi.

SGGP: Who is in the group and what are your plans?

Flood in Ho Chi Minh City

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Cong: It consists of eleven experts and six assistants. The manager is Mr. Tran Du Lich, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Economics Institute. The others include senior officials of the Department of Transport and Public Works, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the University of Technology, the Institute of Planning and Construction, and the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, and I’m in there too. Our job is to collect information about the city’s water drainage plans and make long-term plans for flood control.

SGGP: Could you go into the details?

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Cong: Inside the city, the Department of Transport and Public Works is carrying out four flood-control projects financed with official development assistance loans. Outside the city, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working on a plan for the mouths of Tham Luong, Ben Cat and Nuoc Len canals. These projects are not connected, so flood control is only being done at the very local level. The function of our group is to link them together.

Mr. Ho Long Phi: Also, we will provide technical assistance to fix those projects that have not been working well up ‘til now.

SGGP: The people in the team have been doing this sort of work for years yet flooding still occurs regularly. What difference will it make by grouping them together?

Mr. Ho Long Phi: The goal of the coordinating group is to realize the goals of the master plan and link everything together. Our master plan will be more flexible than previous ones, so we’ll be able to make changes when necessary.

SGGP: You are a scientist working on many big plans for flood control in HCMC as well as the person who came up with the idea of forming the coordinating group. Which job do you prefer?

Mr. Ho Long Phi: Many scientists cannot get access to important data. Our job is to collect all the important information and standardize the input, things like meteorological data, tide and river levels and such. We will publicize all the information so that scientists, students and anyone else who wants to contribute can air their opinions in a public forum. In that way, we will avoid unnecessary arguments among scientists.

SGGP: When do you think city dwellers will reap the benefits of your planning?

Mr. Ho Long Phi: The problem before us is that most of the team’s members have many outside responsibilities, and they don’t know their responsibilities within the team yet. Therefore, we must get better organized. Only then will we yield good results.

SGGP: Thank you.

By Van Anh - Translated by Huu Tho

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