The printed t-shirt that makes an icon out of Vietnam’s telecommunications cables might be irrelevant by 2016, if plans work out for the Metro Ho Chi Minh City area. Vietnam’s power lines, famous for their disorganized appearance, are going underground.
You guessed it, this is yet another one of HCMC’s ambitious urban programs. Just like the canal project, which delivered substantial benefits not originally envisioned, this project appeals to those in power who have dedicated their policy to making Vietnam a fully-developed country by 2050, and making Ho Chi Minh City the center of that progress. Appearances are important, and governmental types are intent upon developing the modern character and atmosphere of Vietnam’s biggest city and central business hub.
As with most of Vietnam’s urban projects, it’s massive, ambitious, and pushed to a timetable that mocks cautious international observers and investors and begs them to keep up with this shifting, rapidly modernizing city and country… will it succeed?
The City approved plans to completely bury the telecom cables for the entire Metro area in 2011. Right now, it’s a HOT EFFING MESS.
Yup, hot mess. Uf da.
Of course, again, just like the canal, there have been problems – this time, inter-company arguing. The project has been bogged down by telecoms fighting over work and future access, and the result has been serious delays to their four-year plan – they’re currently playing a hardcore game of catchup.
The state news has now reported that these have mostly been ironed out, and a new timetable has been set as of June 2014. The Ho Chi Minh Power Corporation has pledged to finish an ongoing 36 projects, totaling 329km, in the next 18 months.
In addition, the second half of 2014 will bring an additional 42 projects, totaling 394km, and 2015 will bring 38 projects with another 342km. That’s over a 1,000 km of relocated power and telecom lines, within 18 months! Because Vietnam, that’s why!
It’s a great idea. The space above sidewalks and roads is a disaster, and hiding the nuts and bolts of modern living truly brings a fresh feeling to the city and provides a solid, upgradeable base for future growth (if all goes according to plan).
Not having to swerve my bike around workmen on bamboo ladders fixing things in the middle of busy intersections is just an added bonus – the true benefits of this will be a cleaner city skyline and improved service unaffected by the constant peril of falling tree branches or torrential storms, as well as the foundation needed to keep HCMC’s development humming along at its breakneck pace.
Will it succeed? CAN it succeed? Only time will tell, I suppose. I’m inclined to believe that they can turn it around and maybe even pull it off.
But whatever happens I say to you, Good Luck, Ho Chi Minh City. You’re pretty gutsy for even trying.