Vexed municipal authorities are hoping much tougher actions in the coming two months against those weakening the city's dike system will make some headway against rampant violations.

Deputy mayor Tran Xuan Viet called for classification of violations into "less complicated" and "complicated" categories so that they can be addressed more efficiently by different local administrations.

The nation in general and the capital city in particular have suffered long-standing abuse of the dike system. People build houses, permanent and temporary, on dikes, steal sand from their base, causing erosion, and ply heavy trucks carrying sand stolen from the river bed, damaging dike roads.

Ha Duc Trung, Deputy Director of the municipal department of agriculture and rural development, which manages dikes, canals and rivers, told a conference last week that over the last five years, just one-third (555) out of the 1,690 dike breaches discovered were handled.

This only encouraged more people to break the rules, and in several cases, violators have even attacked officials of law enforcement agencies.

Nguyen Chi Vien, Vice Chairman of the Ung Hoa People's Committee, said his district shared the capital city's common woes.

Since 2010, district authorities had discovered more than 700 violations on the dyke, but just 290 cases had been dealt with so far, he said.

Worse, the cases dealt with were trivial, involving temporary houses or tents, while permanent houses continued to stand "somehow".

Doan Trung Kinh, General Director of Song Day Irrigation Co. Ltd., asserted that local authorities were well aware of the violations, but were probably discouraged or half-hearted about taking strong action because the violators were "having connections."

He proposed that prohibition signs are planted along dikes or rivers to deter further violations.

A representative from the city Inspectorate suggested that the city sets up a "reward fund" for people who tip authorities off about neighbours or others beginning any illegal construction work on the dike or encroach into the river to "reclaim" it for housing.

Leaders of localities where many violations occur should be publicly identified and held to account, the inspector said.

Hanoi has 626km of dikes running through 26 of its 30 districts. It has a total of 11,412 rivers and irrigation canals.-VNA