A huge tree branch fell on parked cars on Truong Dinh Street, District 1 following heavy rains and strong winds. (Photo:VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – The Vietnam Green Trees and Parks Association has urged the HCM City Transport Department to allocate more funds to examine 5,500 trees in the city after two people were killed by falling trees in the last three weeks. 

On August 26, a 60-year-old woman from District 1 was killed after a tree branch broke and fell on her while she was exercising in Tao Dan Park. 

Two days later, a dipterocarp tree on An Duong Vuong Street in District 5 was suddenly uprooted and killed a 25-year-old man from Kon Tum Province.

On September 12, heavy rains along with strong winds uprooted a 20-metre tall tree located in front of the Nguyen Kim A Building on Tan Phuoc Street in District 10. It fell on a resident’s house. 

Nguyen Thanh Son, head of Green Tree Co Ltd’s technical division, told the Phu Nu (Women) newspaper that construction work on pavements, underground water pipes and other infrastructure items had uprooted many trees.

He said that contractors should be fined, but fines were rarely imposed because the consequences of the construction appeared much later.

More than 5,500 trees, 12m tall or more (of the total of 90,000 trees in the city), are old and stunted. The trees in public areas are under the management of the city’s Transport Department. 

Son said that his company was only responsible for checking problems on tree trunks and then reporting to the responsible city department. His company does not use machines to check tree roots.

Nguyen Trinh Kiem, office manager for the Vietnam Green Trees and Parks Association, said many of these trees were close to residential areas.

Many of them were planted more than 100 years ago, he said, adding that most dipterocarp trees are either around 80 or 100 years old and tamarind trees 60-80 years old. 

Kiem said that repaving of sidewalks and construction of more high-rises had disrupted the roots of trees. 

The city has only 150 workers to take care of the trees.

Kiem said it was necessary to keep old trees but the safety of local residents was even more important.

Lawyer Ha Hai of the HCM City Bar Association said that the city and State government, which are responsible for all trees in public places, should prune the trees in a timely fashion. 

Under civil law, the State has to compensate people for damages caused by collapsed trees. 

The new penal code, which is expected to take effect next year, includes a regulation that requires criminal proceedings against Government agencies responsible for overseeing the management of trees in the cases of fatalities caused by falling trees.-VNA