|The space under a stretch of HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay highway in HCM City's Thu Duc district has become a dumping ground for rubbish. (Photo: tuoitre.vn)
Thousands of square metres under the city's two major highways, HCM City – Trung Luong and HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay, have become dumping grounds for residents to leave their waste.
Some households let their animals roam around free in these spaces, and industrial vehicles park there at night, waiting until the hour they are allowed to enter the city centre, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
“Trucks and containers frequent this area and risk causing traffic accidents,” said Truong Thi Hoa Thu, a resident who lives by the HCM City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay highway. “People often get terrified passing this way.”
A survey conducted by the city’s Department of Transport in September 2018 revealed that all of the city's parking spaces met just 20 percent of demand.
Do Ngoc Dung, former deputy director of the Cuu Long Corporation for Investment, Development and Project Management of Infrastructure which owns the HCM City – Trung Lương construction project, said it was a waste for the city not to take advantage of these spaces while there was such a severe parking shortage.
“But there is nothing we can do since current regulations don’t allow spaces under flyovers and bridges to be used for any other purpose,” he said.
These regulations include a decree issued by the Government in 2010 and a circular issued by the Ministry of Transport in 2015, which both specify that spaces under elevated infrastructure should not be used for residential, business or parking purposes.
A similar circular issued by the Ministry of Transport in 2017 includes the same regulation, and explains it is necessary because the areas must be available when the elevated roads need maintenance and repairs.
An official from the Road Administration No 4 under the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam said the spaces could not be used for parking because the flyovers were designed only for traffic.
If parking lots and commercial centres were to be built there, the roadways should have been designed with ample space for both maintenance and fire prevention from the start, he said.
Nguyen Van Thanh, Director of Road Administration No 4, said these spaces should be put to use.
“Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore have built parking lots under their bridges,” Thanh said. "Singapore has even built multi-level basements and offers commercial services there."
Thanh said he would ask for adjustments to regulations to allow other uses.
“Engineers should also think about designing bridges that have enough space underneath to install fire prevention works,” he said.