For the 2021-25 period, the city has set a target to relocate 6,500 houses along its canals, allocating capital of VNĐ19.3 trillion (US$790 million), mostly from the state budget. 

The city seeks to solve drainage problems, improve the environment and beautify the urban area.

The HCM City Construction Department informed that the city has five major canal routes with a total length of over 105km for water drainage in a basin of 14,200ha. 

However, the canals themselves are being narrowed due to encroachment of nearby dwellers. The total number of houses built on and along these canals comes to more than 65,000 (according to statistics since 1993). 

In general, the completed proportion of the scheme to remove and relocate houses as well as resettling residents along these canals is rather low (below 50 per cent). 

In June 2023, only five out of fourteen projects have been approved to receive more capital for compensation distribution and resettlement tasks. 

Nguyễn Hữu Nguyên, a member of the HCM City Urban Planning and Development Association (UPDA), said that the process had been way too slow.

According to Nguyên, the city's authorities had already set a target to remove 20,000 houses along canals in 2016-2020 and after that, adjusted the target down to around 10,000.

By the end of that term, only 2,500 had been relocated.

"The city’s state budget is limited, and it is difficult to call for private investment as the project could not guarantee investors large benefits and therefore, they are not interested," he added.

Meanwhile, the process of relocating the houses also faces obstacles with procedures, as in most cases, residents do not have any ownership papers, which is a must for compensation and relocation decisions.

To push forward progress, Nguyên of the UPDA suggested the city divide the entire plan into smaller projects and avoid setting too big a goal.

He also proposed the city allow private investors to use part of the canal bank for their business to make the project more attractive.

The municipal authorities and related functional agencies in HCMC should evaluate the current status, devise more feasible and comprehensive solutions or policies to successfully implement the programme to remove and relocate houses as well as resettle residents along the canals so that the concerned people can enjoy a more stable life in the future. — VNS