The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is flooded after downpour. (Source: hiepthanhphu.com.vn)

HCM City (VNA) – HCM City Party Secretary Dinh La Thang has urged HCM City authorities to develop a long-term plan to prevent worsening flooding at the country’s largest airport.

Thang met with representatives from the ministries of Transport and National Defense and other agencies in HCM City on September 19 to discuss flood-prevention measures at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Tan Binh District.

Thang said that flooding at the airport, an important brand for national aviation, was causing a bad image among Vietnamese and foreign passengers.

“The city cannot resolve the problem effectively alone, but needs cooperation from relevant ministries and agencies,” he said.

Thang said that all agencies should make preparations for flooding and ensure airport safety and operations.

Under the plan, the city would be responsible for upgrading all airport infrastructure and roads leading to the airport.

Tasks for specific agencies responsible for flood prevention would also be included in the plan.

Thang urged the city’s Transport Department to complete flood-prevention and traffic congestion prevention projects at the airport, and report to the Government if needs assistance with special incentives to speed up the project.

Thang also said the city would be responsible for finding land to build a reservoir at the airport and ensure that it operates effectively.

Nguyen Ngoc Cong, Director of the HCM City Flood Control Centre, said heavy downpours on August 26 and September 11 caused serious flooding at several sections on the airport’s aprons where aircraft park and passengers board.

The most serious flooding was caused on August 26, leaving at least four aprons inundated.

“After visiting the site, city agencies attributed the problem to rubbish from canal A41. Residents have built housing on the banks of the two-km canal, affecting the flow of water,” Cong said.

Cong said the centre would build a reservoir to collect rainwater. Long-term solutions would include investing in dredging and expanding the canal to ensure the release of water.

Cong said Tan Binh District authorities would be responsible for the entire project, including site clearance, compensation, construction and management.

The district authority must be held responsible for violations such as illegal building of structures near the canals, Cong said.

Bui Xuan Cuong, Director of the Transport Department, has urged Tan Binh District to immediately resolve any area that causes blockage of water from rubbish, and improve the pumping and releasing of water from the canal.

Dang Tuan Tu, Director of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, said it was important to establish a pump station at the canal area and speed up site clearance work at the canal.

Senior lieutenant-general Vo Van Tuan of the Defense Ministry said the construction of a reservoir was vital to control flooding and provide water for fire-fighting at the airport.

Le Van Khoa, Vice Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, urged Tan Binh District to complete site clearance to develop the project to upgrade the canal, which would involve 163 affected households (29 households would have to be relocated) by June next year.

Khoa set a deadline for the completion of the project by 2018, one year earlier than the city’s previous plan.

Last week, Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the city People’s Committee, together with representatives from agencies, visited the canal and saw the serious problem of illegal construction near the canal by local residents.

Phong has asked Tan Binh District to assess compensation amounts for site clearance so the canal can be expanded.

He also asked the Finance Department to advance capital to develop the project soon.

The aircraft repair company under the Defense Ministry and the Southern Airports Authority have been asked to enhance maintenance of the drainage system in the airport area.

Last year, Tan Son Nhat International Airport faced risk of closure as flooding threatened a power station supplying electricity to air traffic control facilities.

Some areas in the airport were under 20 cm of water following rains in October last year, and the power station was flooded.

Sandbags were used to keep the water out of some facilities.

Drainage problems in nearby canals, half of which are used by local residents to dump rubbish, were blamed for the inundation.

The airport management urged city authorities to take urgent action to deal with flooding that could force a temporary closure of the airport.-VNA