With the road leading to Hanoi’s largest waste treatment plant blocked by protestors demanding compensation and resettlement, garbage is piling up around the city.
On Monday morning Tran Anh Dao, a resident of Kim Nguu Street in downtown Hanoi, woke up with a stink lingering in her house. Outside, on the street, uncollected garbage had piled up. There were used plastic bags and styrofoam boxes with discarded food lying in carts for days.
The 34-year-old’s plight is not unique. Full trash carts and piles of garbage can be seen in many parts of the capital, uncollected for two days as people living around Hanoi’s largest waste-treatment plant in Soc Son District have been blocking the road leading to it. Their demand is always the same: larger compensation amounts and relocation from near the complex.
Outside the plant, nearly 700 trucks with 7,000 tons of trash are waiting to enter last weekend.
Meanwhile, garbage has been piling up with the attendant odor and blowflies in districts like Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Cau Giay, and Thanh Xuan.
A bad situation worsened on Monday morning as more trash was discarded while a lot of people were traveling for work.
Garbage carts near Nga Tu So Intersection in Hanoi on the afternoon of October 25, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tat Dinh.
With garbage lining the streets and sidewalks, traveling has become a nightmare. On Monday morning streets such as Thanh Thai, Kim Nguu, Dao Tan, Thai Thinh, with carts full of trash next to piles of uncollected trash, were gridlocked.
Some of the carts were covered with plastic sheets to reduce the smell and insects, but others continued to see garbage dumped by households.
“Normally I see traffic jams in the morning, now these piles of garbage are making it worse and give off an awful smell while we are stuck in the traffic,” Le Van Quang, an office worker traveling on Tran Thai Tong Street, lamented.
The stoppage of garbage collection has had an impact on people’s lives as they keep trash at home instead of dumping it.
Many residential buildings have advised tenants to reduce their trash. But understandably no one wants garbage to remain inside their house for too long.
Nguyen Thi Nguyen, 58, who brought two bags of trash and dumped them on a sidewalk of Nguyen Trai Street, said: “Those workers have vanished for two days, and so I kept the garbage at home. But it got too stinky and so I had to put it here.”
This is not only causing a public hygiene issue but also hitting businesses and stores since people are staying away from places with garbage.
“We live here and are afraid of this smell; how can customers enjoy their meals in this?” asked the owner of a pho restaurant on Hoang Van Thai Street which had to be closed early on Sunday afternoon, “after a quiet and stinky morning.”
Not a new problem
Three months ago too people living near the Nam Son waste treatment plant in Soc Son had blocked the road leading to it.
They have been living with the odors, flies and other environmental and hygiene problems as the complex has been treating 6,000 tons of trash daily since opening in 1999.
City authorities announced plans to relocate people living within 500 meters of the plant and paying them compensation, but since the process is slow with little compensation, local residents block the road to the complex to voice their opposition.
People block the road to Hanoi’s largest waste-treatment plant in Soc Son District on October 24, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tat Dinh.
Many people in Soc Son’s Hong Ky and Nam Son Communes say they know their blockade would cause suffering to others around the city, but add they have no choice since local authorities are too slow in paying compensation.
Nguyen Thanh Hai, deputy chairman of the Hong Ky Commune People’s Committee, admitted the compensation offered is too little.
When the road was blocked three months ago, the city People’s Committee instructed the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to work with the Soc Son People’s Committee to speed up the compensation payment process and complete it in 2020.
Vuong Dinh Hue, the City Party Committee Secretary, held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the problem where he said it remains unresolved because local authorities are not taking responsibility.
Hue also instructed relevant authorities to persuade people not to block the road to the treatment plant and support them by providing medical insurance and clean water and resolving the compensation and resettlement issues.
The road has been blocked 15 times in the last few years.
While authorities are trying to address the issues, the Urban Environment Company, which is in charge of the environment and collecting and treating garbage in the city, has suggested that people should reduce the garbage they generate and keep it at home until a solution is found.
Dao asked: “I keep three bags of garbage in my kitchen. How long will I have to keep them and see those garbage everywhere?”
She was leaving for work on Monday morning and hoped she would not see the piles of garbage in front of her house when she returns in the afternoon.
Reported by Long Nguyen, @Vnexpress