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Ho Chi Minh City infrastructure overstretched: official

The current transport infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh City is "seriously overloaded" as the city has become too crowded, a senior city official has said.

"The infrastructure was designed for just 3 million residents, but the population has expanded to 8 million now and will grow to 12 million in 2020," Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the city People's Committee, said in an interview with Thanh Nien while he was attending the World Cities Summit 2010 in Singapore last week.

"HCMC only accounts for eight percent of the road surface in the country but there are more than 6 million vehicles in the city, or more than 30 percent of the national figure," he said.

"If all these vehicles were lined up on the streets, we would not have enough space," Quan said, noting that it was impossible for the city to build streets fast enough to accommodate the vehicles.

Although the city is determined to solve the problem, it is hampered by capital limitations, he said.

"Private investors will participate if allowed, but they may not comply with the city's planning goals. Besides, private investors often focus on property projects and are less interested in infrastructure.

"Foreign investors too consider their investment carefully," the city chairman said. "Due to the economic crisis they have had to restructure their budgets."

Quan said another problem was site clearance for infrastructure projects, as land compensation often accounted for 70 percent of the total cost.

"Urban development can't depend on just the city government; the residents have to play their part by following the plans," he told Thanh Nien.

"Meanwhile, the (central) government needs to create suitable policies for the city and keep the population stable," he said.

When a city grows into a megacity with more than 10 million people, development becomes "out of balance," Quan said.

The World Cities Summit 2010 ended Thursday in Singapore. The four-day event focused on leadership and governance and ways to build sustainable communities.