HCMC metro depot lies abandoned

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The plot of land acquired for building the Tan Kien Depot on HCMC’s metro line 3A now lies abandoned and locals use it for agriculture.

The 26-hectare piece of land in Binh Chanh District remains unused for years and is covered in weeds.

Its entrance doors are gone, and the guardhouse is deserted. The surrounding walls are faded, and sections of a barbed wire fence put around it have been destroyed by locals to create entrances into the plot.

A household within the depot area has yet to be relocated.

The depot will also house the control center, assembly and maintenance and repair facilities for the Ben Thanh – Tan Kien metro line.

Thirteen years ago the city leveled the site and built the fence and guardhouses at a cost of over VND26 billion (US$1 million).

A corner of the land has been cleared to make Tan Kien Depot, outside is Hung Nhon Street, June 7. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

A part of the land plot in HCMC’s Binh Chanh District that is designated as Tan Kien Depot of HCMC’s metro line No.3A, June 7, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

The land acquisition and compensation payment to 152 affected households were done separately by local authorities.

Line No.3A will connect with line No.1, the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien route, that is scheduled to partially start operations next month.

It will run 20 km from Ben Thanh in District 1 and Tan Kien Ward in Binh Chanh District, cost an estimated US$2.8 billion and be built in two phases.

Work on phase 1 is expected to start in 2025 and be completed in 2031.

In 2019 the fence was built around the depot but two families refuse to move out, and one is still holding out.

This project has undergone six extensions to its completion deadline.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Railway Management Board (MAUR), which manages all metro projects in the city, the items built so far are not protected since they have not yet been officially assessed and handed over by their contractor, resulting in their severe deterioration.

MAUR said the ground, which was leveled, has “naturally” subsided and no longer meets the standards for further construction.

Some locals have even dug ponds for fish farming and planted lotuses in it.

Some sections of the fence and gates have been stolen or dismantled to create pathways, and the remaining portions are damaged and rusted.

One of the households that was moved out has moved back illegally, and others have encroached upon the land for farming and raising livestock.

In 2022 the Urban Railway Company No. 1 (HURC1), the city’s metro operator, proposed to take over the land temporarily to manage it.

It suggested it would come up with plans to use the land for temporary storage, parking and other commercial purposes while waiting for the construction.

But this proposal was not approved.

The depot entrance has lost its door and can be freely entered and exited on June 7. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

The depot’s entrance has lost its door and can be freely entered and exited in this photo taken on June 7, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh

In May this year MAUR petitioned the city to instruct Binh Chanh District authorities to swiftly finish the site clearance and hand over the land before the third quarter.

MAUR also called for approving HURC1’s plan to temporary exploit the site for commercial purposes.

3A is one of eight metro lines planned to be built in the city.

They will have 10 depots on a total area of 222 hectares.

Long Binh Depot in Thu Duc City for line No.1 is nearly complete.

Metro Line No. 2 from Ben Thanh Market to District 12 is in the process of land acquisition. Work on it will begin next year and be completed by 2030.