At the seminar, entitled “Long An-HCMC: Connection for Development,” jointly held by the Saigon Times Group and the Saigon Times Real Estate Club to identify the potentials of the Western regions of Ho Chi Minh City, with a focus on the connection between Ho Chi Minh City and Long An and solutions for development in this area.
There is not yet a study on expanding Ho Chi Minh City in this direction
Experts had different points of view regarding this province, the data at the seminar helped people to have a more general view of where to connect with Ho Chi Minh City by many localities in the province.
Experts also commented that Long An has been investing a lot of resources in infrastructure and transportation with important projects, namely Ho Chi Minh City – Trung Luong highway, and upcoming Ben Luc – Long Thanh highway… This contributed to establish important buffer zones between Long and Ho Chi Minh City.
However, many people at the seminar commented that the existing infrastructure is not adequate and preventing investment. Many routes have low weight limit which is an obstacle in attracting big investors. Investing is not focusing on the strategic projects for industrial development, especially not forming the main roads outside the fence connecting industrial zones and clusters; The traffic between Ho Chi Minh City and the key districts of the province’s industrial development is still slow, not yet promoting the optimal advantage.
Statistically, there are 28 industrial zones and 32 industrial clusters with a total area of 13.500 hectare. Of which, 16 industrial parks have been put into operation with occupancy rates above 68% and 14 industrial clusters with occupancy rates of nearly 90%.
From the planning perspective, Mr. Nguyen Thiem – Vice Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Planning Association said: “Speaking of studies about planning since 1980, researchers had many proposals to expand the regions surrounding Ho Chi Minh City. In which, Ho Chi Minh City successfully connected to Binh Duong in the North, and Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau in the South. But there was no research about connection in the West to the Mekong Delta via Long An.
Explaining this story, Mr. Thiem said: “The border in the West of Ho Chi Minh City is approximately 100 kilometer long, but until 2000, there was no proposal to connect Long An and Ho Chi Minh City.”
According to Mr. Thiem, the natural conditions in Long An, especially in the areas Can Giuoc, Can Duoc and Ben Luc have many limitations for real estate development. The soil ground is low. There are many rivers and canals, making a beautiful landscape but adding to the investment cost. In addition, the soil foundation is weak, water source contains salt and alum which cannot be used for daily activities. At present, Long An has to get water supply from Dau Tieng lake, which is far away.
Besides, most of the land are rice fields, making it hard to reuse for real estate development.
In addition, there are many problems remaining in the planning of suburban districts on the border of Long An and Ho Chi Minh City such as location is far from main infrastructure and major roads and connecting is difficult due to lack of infrastructure projects.
Ho Chi Minh City has been focused on expanding in two main directions: to the East and to the South. Meanwhile, connection towards the west also has an important role in helping Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding regions to improve socio-economic strength.
Long An with position next to Ho Chi Minh City and a large population has been considered as the bridge connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the Southeast regions to the Mekong Delta. Therefore, many experts believe that Ho Chi Minh City should be expanded towards Long An as the traffic is convenient with many highways and national roads, as well as waterways.
On the other hand, Long An has a relatively large land fund, suitable for development of satellite cities and decentralization strategy of Ho Ci Minh City. Developing and connecting infrastructure between Ho Chi Minh City and Long An will boost the growth rate of real estate industry, bringing more opportunities for investors.
The need of connecting for development
From the perspective of Long An Transport management, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Ngoan – Deputy Director of Long An Department of Transport said: “ Increasing investment in infrastructure is crucial during this period, with appropriate connections between provinces such as Ho Chi Minh City and Long An or Long An and Dong Thap. There are currently a few routes already included in the ongoing projects invested by the government to build the main route between Ho Chi Minh City and Long An. However, road clearance should also be executed to reduce traffic jams.”
According to Dang Thuy Ha – Deputy Director of Long An Construction Department, investment for future development in Long An has been uplifted so the government is willing to open for businesses and investors.
At the management level in the Construction industry, Ha shared her opinion regarding the current issues during development of the real estate market. Many scattered and small residencies have been established in the province as a result of fast growth, impacting on the overall development plan of the province.
“Long An lacks social infrastructure, making the growth unsustainable and less attracted to people. To solve this issue, the local government will focus on major projects and control the small projects with strict policies. The province is currently showing interests in building infrastructure to solve this problem”, Ha said.
According to Su Ngoc Khuong, a finance and investment expert, connecting Long An and Ho Chi Minh City is not just about traffic connection. “We’ve built many bridges that no one is using”, he said. To develop, Long An needs to have connections to economic zones. The urban planners understand this problem very clearly.