In the process of applying for a licence, representatives of a consortium of six South Korean investors expressed an expectation that their Central Area of Tay Ho Tay (West West Lake) Town project would be part of celebrations for Hanoi’s 1,000th anniversary.
But after being licensed on January 19, 2006, the project then stalled. Like many others, the main reason was site clearance issues. In April this year, as the anniversary looms and with pressure from the investors, authorities involved in the project gave signs that the site clearance issues may be wrapped up by the end of the year.
On May 4, 2010, 160 days before the anniversary, the Hanoi People’s Committee (HPC) ratified announcement No 136/TB-UBND on guidance/direction from its Chairman, Mr Nguyen The Thao, on the work process of projects in the Tay Ho Tay New Urban Area. The announcement came based on a meeting held on April 22 at HPC, which was described as “tense”.
In the announcement, Mr Thao remarked that “work at all projects [in Tay Ho Tay Town] is too slow, especially site clearance, which show that there is a lack of firm cooperation between investors and authorities, due to poor capability in and a lack of responsibility of the investors and insufficient consultation with departments and branches under the HPC, and local authorities [at the district and commune level] have not focused on performing their tasks.” He therefore directed all sides to seriously review their responsibility in implementing the tasks assigned by the HPC.
In its initial plan announced in 2006, the Tay Ho Tay Town project has an area of 847 ha. It contains many parts, including Peace Park, Friendship Park, a Diplomatic Compound, five roads (Nos 1 to 5), two resettlement areas in Xuan Dinh and Co Nhue communes, and the Central Area project. It will straddle the administrations of seven communes and precincts in Tu Liem district (65 per cent of the total area), Tay Ho district (25 per cent) and Cau Giay district (10 per cent).
The Tay Ho Tay Development Co., Ltd, (T.H.T), now made up of five companies (Daewoo E&C, the Daewon Co. Ltd, the Dong Il Construction Co. Ltd, Keangnam Enterprises Ltd, and the Kolon Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd) instead of the original six, has 207.66 ha as the centre of its project: the Central Area, Tay Ho Tay New Urban Area. The project has two phases, the first of which will be implemented on 117.3 ha with most of the land being farming land, with the second phase to cover 90.3 ha, mostly residential land.
On December 10, 2007, the HPC issued Decision No 4908/QD-UBND on taking over 1,173,030 sq m (117.3 ha) of land in two communes - Co Nhue and Xuan Dinh - in Tu Liem district and assigned the Hanoi Land Fund Development Centre to implement site clearance and compensation.
The Chairman of HPC required that the site clearance and the handing over of 61.3 ha in Phase I was to finish in July 2010. The area has some 740 households and will be the site of the Thang Long Opera House. The entire Phase I is required to be completed in October. “We have cooperated with T.H.T and sought an agreement regarding land compensation solutions for households,” said Mr Tran Huy Dung, Director of the Hanoi Land Fund Development Centre. He also confirmed that meetings with 228 households on the first stages of the inventory process are now underway and 75 compensation solutions have been published and are waiting for approval. Around 40 people involved in the land clearance compensation process, divided into four groups to carry out investigations and surveys, continue to complete documents and set up compensation and support solutions to ensure the continuity of the process.
On May 6, 2010, T.H.T transferred VND67 billion ($3.5 million) to the Tu Liem branch of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, earmarked for land compensation purposes. A day later, the investor sent HPC a document confirming their commitment to prepare capital for land compensation, especially prioritising an area of 61.3 ha (including 25 ha for the Thang Long Opera House) in Xuan Dinh commune, Tu Liem district.
The compensation rate for farming land taken over for the project varies, to a maximum VND1.5 million ($78) per square metre. Total compensation to be paid by the investor in Phase I is VND1,937 billion ($101.9 million) and more than VND5,750 billion ($302.6 million) in Phase II. The money transfer will take place in parallel with the process of site clearance. The company is continuously in touch with related offices and authorities to gain consensus, and also with households in the communes and districts to secure full cooperation.
According to Mr Dung, based on Plan No 180/ UBND-TTPTQD, co-signed on April 29, 2010 by the Centre and the Xuan Dinh Commune People’s Committee, site clearance will be carried out non-stop on Saturdays and Sundays to meet the deadline of July 31. He believes, however, that site clearance for all 117.3 ha could take longer than planned due to Vietnamese customs. “Some of the land has cemeteries,” he said. “Vietnamese people normally move tombs to other locations in the ninth month of the lunar year [October], so site clearance may extend to end of the year.”
For the 90.3 ha in the second phase, in Cau Giay and Tay Ho districts, as most of the land is residential the whole project, including the construction of resettlement areas, must be fully coordinated. But the resettlement area is also proceeding slowly due to site clearance issues and its proximity to Nhat Tan Bridge, and it also needs to have a comprehensive transport network. “It will take around two years to meet all the necessary conditions for project implementation,” said Mr Dung.
If site clearance meets the deadline and the investor keeps to its commitments, in 2014 technical infrastructure in the Central Area is expected to be completed. “T.H.T leaders have cooperated with the Centre and local authorities and have transferred funds,” said Mr Dung. “This shows their determination to implement the project.”
According to Mr Nguyen Chi Dung, Director of the Investment and Construction Project Management Unit under the Hanoi Construction Department, the 14 ha Thang Long Opera House will be the first project to see ground broken in the Central Area of the Tay Ho Tay New Urban Area project. The ground breaking is planned for October this year, on the occasion of Hanoi’s 1,000th anniversary.
In the HPC plan, in May this year the Construction Department met selected design consultants from Italy, Japan, France and the UK to discuss ideas for the Opera House. In July they will submit their design solutions. In August HPC will set up a council to select one of four design solutions and organise a referendum, before publishing the official design in September. Thang Long Opera House is expected to be an arts and cultural centre at the national level, where diversified forms of art will be performed and traditional forms of art displayed.
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