HCMC still facing indiscriminate littering after adopting several measures

Hundreds of practical models to clean garbage at public places have been carried out in HCMC; yet reality has proved they are not as effective as expected.

Local inhabitants are collecting waste along the canal on Pham Thi Tram Street in Binh My Commune of Cu Chi District (Photo: SGGP)

During the 152nd Green Sunday in the middle of this March, the youth in HCMC enthusiastically collected trash along and on Rach Muop Canal in District 12, Xuyen Tam Canal in Binh Thanh District.

Besides regular green campaigns, many organizations in the city have held meaningful activities to improve the overall environment here. Green Community Vietnam has been able to eliminate a number of illegal trash gathering points in HCMC. The scheme ‘Recycling in Vietnam’ welcomes electronic waste all over the country in exchange for gifts.

Many districts in HCMC organize useful programs and campaigns as well, such as ‘Exchanging hazardous household garbage and plastic waste for essential commodities’, ‘No-waste public parks’, ‘Flower beds instead of waste gathering points’. Several neighborhoods are following the movement ‘15 minutes for a more beautiful and civilized city’ to clean streets and alleys each weekend.

Despite those useful activities to improve the awareness of the community about protecting the environment, there are still certain individuals who purposedly violate environmental regulations. A 42-year-old man has recently been caught red handed while dumping three sacks of waste illegally on an empty space in Tan Kien Commune of Binh Chanh District. In 2023, the local authorities of Tan Kien Commune detected and punished nine such cases.

Only one month with no cleaning activities on Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe Canal, hundreds of tonnes of garbage can be spotted on the canal. Even worse, after each event, the famous pedestrian street of Nguyen Hue in District 1 is usually full of litter. At the foot of many overpasses for pedestrians like the one on Do Xuan Hop Street (Thu Duc City), huge piles of trash often appear illegally.

The People’s Committee of Binh Chanh District informed that it has already formed an inter-disciplined task force (Team 247) to handle environment-related issues. Since 2021, the district has punished 270 cases of environmental law breaking, collecting a total fine of VND8.7 billion (US$351,000). One of them was transferred to the police because of signs of crime.

Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thu Huong of the People’s Committee of District 10 reported that in 2022-2023, Urban Order Management Team and the People’s Committees of 14 wards in the district timely detected and fined 317 cases of offended environmental regulations, collecting an amount of VND268 million ($10,814).

In Cu Chi District, the People’s Committee of the district directs its sub-levels to fully eliminate illegal waste gathering points on typical streets to become good examples for others. A total of 3,233 cameras were installed on different streets to monitor trash disposal status. In 2023, the district handled 28 administrative violations and fined VND500 million ($20,175).

Functional agencies and the dwellers in Tan Kien Commune of Binh Chanh District have caught people illegally disposing of trash red handed (Photo: SGGP)

Statistics of the HCMC Department of Information and Communications reveal that in HCMC there are about 60,000 cameras and 4,200 camcorders in various neighborhoods. Decree No.45 by the Government allows indirect punishment after tracking violations via these monitoring devices, expected to greatly contribute to reducing environmental law offenses.

Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Bach Mai of the HCMC Mass Mobilization Commission (under the HCMC Party Committee) said that both direct and indirect punishments should be carried out to more effectively reduce illegal littering at public places.

The sad news is that there are currently no sanctions to deal with violators who do not pay fines, and hence causing no fear to law breakers. That is not to mention a high need for cooperation among the local authorities, the community, and businesses to quickly pinpoint law offenders.

Dr. Bui Ngoc Hien from the HCMC Cadre Academy commented that Vietnamese people are able to observe environment-related laws when visiting other countries like Singapore, Japan, or the Republic of Korea. Yet when coming back home, they sometimes break the laws. Only by firmly and consistently adopting legal regulations on this matter can the situation be amended thanks to better awareness and habits. It is strict sanctions that improve the awareness of society.

Vice Chairman Phan Van Ly of the People’s Committee of Tan Kien Commune shared that his commune has created self-management teams for environment protection to actively monitor both manufacturers, households, and individuals to timely detect illegal activities as well as environmental problems. Local residents are also encouraged to report such wrongdoings to the authorities for prompt handling. Enthusiastic members of these teams are regularly honored publicly to better perform their duty.

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