By Gia Loc
Can Tho City, Vietnam, September 21, 2015
HCM CITY (VNS) — Can Tho authorities plan to install speed limit signs on the Hau River to prevent barges from travelling too fast, causing serious erosion and damaging property in the city’s An Binh Ward.
A 100-metre section in the Mekong River tributary, which collapsed two months ago, caused VND50 million (US$2,272) in property losses, Truong Van Dung, a local resident, told Viet Nam News. In 2008, after the Cai Son Bridge was built, more and more barges began transporting construction materials on the river, he said. The barges often travel at top speed, damaging riverbanks from the force of the water.
An Binh Ward, which is near the bridge, has been hit the worst. Dung added that many houses near the riverbank had collapsed. “When there is heavy rainfall and seasonal high tides, my neighbours and I have difficulty in travelling because of flooding,” he said.
In the last two or three years, the ward’s main road often sank between 70 and 80 centimetres every year but now it sinks by only 30 centimetres thanks to an biological river embankment that was built last August by the city Climate Change Coordination Office (CCCO).
The project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in coordination with the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition. Tran Thi Huong, 58, of the ward, whose house is near the riverbank, said that a part of her house had been lost due to erosion. Compared to the past, damage caused by erosion in the last two months had not been as severe, thanks to the embankment.
“We see the efficiency, but we’re still worried about the safety of the embankment because it could be destroyed if barges travel on the river,” Dung said. The 800-metre embankment includes three layers: African Mahogany wood fence; mangrove apple or water hyacinth plants; and Arican Mahogany wood fence. A concrete embankment is used in seriously eroded areas.
The embankment is part of a Community-Based Urban Flood and Erosion Management project with total budget of $ 500,000 (with a $67,000 local contribution) under the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network. The project aims to control the risk of river erosion; construct a canal embankment at Cai Son riverbank; and upgrade the drainage system of Ap Chien Luoc canal.
“This project has the participation of the community from the development stage to implementation and monitoring stage,” CCCO head Ky QuangVinh said. “When it is completed, the local community will be the beneficiaries, and will also be responsible for preservation and maintenance. That way, it will be more effective, long-term and sustainable,” Vinh added.
Residents’ awareness and initiative on adapting to erosion in the ward had also improved, he said. Huong said that she had spent a great amount of money to upgrade her house’s foundation to ensure safety. “We have to seek ways to adapt to the erosion,” she added.
Vinh said that limiting the speed of barges was the best way to prevent erosion.
Can Tho had 38 seriously eroded areas caused by the impact of barge transport as well as climate change, he said. Vinh said that building embankments and limiting the speed of barges were necessary to prevent erosion. Residents should also be moved to new areas and offered a means of making a living, he added. — VNS
Image: Speed limit signs on the Hau River to prevent barges from travelling too fast. — Photo courtesy of CCCO
This story was produced in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network