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Ho Chi Minh City to spend $4.4 billion on anti-flood measures

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Vietnam’s largest city is experiencing massive flooding and working to stem a rising tide

Sitting where the Saigon River meets the South China Sea, Ho Chi Minh City is vulnerable to massive storm flooding. Late last month, the city’s streets and basement car parks filled with water, even as officials unveiled new plans to build flood control defenses, sewage treatment plants, and upgrade drains.

With a total cost of roughly $4.4 billion, the plan is only 40 percent funded from government purses and international aid. The remainder of the price tag will come from taxes and private companies.

The most pressing component of the proposal is a 5-mile, $500-million sewage pipeline that will keep sewage from being dumped in the Saigon River. Other measures include creating water drainage channels and flood defenses along an almost 5-mile stretch of the river, and construction of two pumping stations to help protect at-risk areas from flooding.

When recent flash floods left vehicles waterlogged in almost two-dozen underground parking garages, critics called for stronger anti-flooding measures. Previously, the city has dealt with tropical storm flooding by deploying mobile pumps.

But an engineer at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Pham Xuan Mai, said that the real problem was insufficiently large drainage pipes. "This is the mistake made by designers who could not estimate their real drainage capacity," he said.