Old apartment blocks crumble as investors tarry
  • | | October 23, 2011 01:04 PM

A series of aging apartment blocks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are potentially at risk of collapse; but, the projects to restore them remain moribund.

A dilapidated apartment block in Hanoi

City booms, old buildings deteriorate

At a recent conference seeking measures to speed up the upgrading of old apartment blocks held by the Ministry of Construction, Nguyen Trong Hoa, Head of Ho Chi Minh City Institute for Development Studies, said, the city had witnessed a boom in inner-city construction projects worth thousands of billions of VND.

Investors have been racing to complete new, profitable projects, overloading the city’s infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the upgrade of old apartment blocks has moved at a snail’s pace. Many people are living in dilapidated accommodation, with few local facilities, and no access for emergency services.

A report released recently by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) revealed that Vietnam has over 3 million square metres of apartment blocks built before 1991, mostly in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nghe An, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh and Phu Tho.

To date, Hanoi has restored and rebuilt only nine out of 434 old apartment blocks, accounting for just 2% of the total. Ho Chi Minh City has restored 46 restored blocks. UN-Habitat attributed stagnation to the lack of policies to encourage households to move out of inner-city areas for the suburbs.

According to Cong An Nhan Dan Newspaper, the project to upgrade blocks E6 and E7 in Quynh Mai Ward, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, is a typical example. The buildings have been in very bad condition for years. Seven years ago, companies surveyed the blocks for renovation, including IDICO Urban and House Development Investment Joint Stock Company and Song Hong Land Investment JS Company. Nevertheless, work on the project remains confined to paper.


Pham Sy Liem, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Construction Association, said lots of projects to improve old apartment blocks in Hanoi could not be implemented because of a lack of agreement among the public, investors and the Government.

He cited the D2 block project in Giang Vo Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi as an example. The Hanoi’s People Committee allowed the Gia Bao Housing Investment Development JSC to carry out a 21 storey project despite the Prime Minister’s ban on construction projects of more than nine floors in four inner-city districts, including Ba Dinh.

Lao Dong newspaper reported that the investor had also demanded that a number of households move out of the block despite it not having yet submitted a compensation plan to the municipal authority for approval. The company also did not canvass public opinion on its project and faced strong opposition from local people.

The association also suggested applying a planning requirement mechanism in which local authorities lay out specific plans for investors in terms of minimum levels of infrastructure they are obliged to construct.


Leave your comment on this story