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Migrant workers lack housing in Da Nang

VietNam News February, 24 2011.

The shortage of accommodation is the biggest worry for migrant workers in the central City of Da Nang where, on the other hand, several budget housing projects have stalled in the last few years.

Losing their job is not the biggest fear for most migrant workers in the central city, especially those working at export processing zones (EPZs) and industrial parks (IPs), Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper said.

More than 60 per cent of nearly 60,000 workers at the six EPZs and IPs here are from other provinces. However, the city does not have a single apartment block for them.

Thousands of the workers rent cheap houses or low-quality apartments.

"Since a large number of new urban areas have been built, low-cost accommodation is becoming scarce since land for [it] has shrunk," Duong Thanh Thi, chairman of Lien Chieu District People's Committee, which is home of Lien Chieu and Hoa Khanh IPs, said.

The demand for low-cost housing is the highest in his district since it houses the two largest IPs, accounting for 50 per cent of all workers at EPZs and IPs, in addition to thousands of students study in five local universities and vocational schools, he said.

The lack of stable accommodation has led to negative impacts on the quality of living of both workers and local residents, he said.

"But the administration is unable to resolve the problem," he admitted.

Nguyen Thi Hong, a worker at Hoa Khanh IP, said she shared a place very far from her workplace with four others but still considered herself lucky since thousands of others were not able to find a place to stay.

Cheap housing that catered to workers and students has been demolished to make way for other housing projects, Hong said.

A public project to build three budget five-storey buildings for low-income people and workers in Lien Chieu actually began in 2003.

Expected to provide 600 apartments, it was approved at a cost of VND27 billion (US$1.35 million).

But it has dragged on for more than seven years, including two stoppages after running out of money. An additional VND3.3 billion ($165,000) was approved for its construction but only its frame has been built so far.

The main contractor, Da Nang Industrial Zones Infrastructure Development Company, has blamed the delay on lack of funds.

The work was handed last year to a new contractor, the Hung Phu Investment Joint Stock Company, which promised to complete 183 apartments last year, and accommodation for another 5,000 workers and facilities for their entertainment and services this year.

But Lao Dong reported work has not become any faster.

In an effort to address the pressing issue of the workers' housing shortage, the city People's Committee recently reviewed and repossessed lands allotted to public budget-apartment projects that have been delayed.

One of the main reasons for the tardy progress and lack of interest among investors is the low profitability of such projects and the long time needed to make returns on them.

Other problems include the projects' shortage of land, meaning investors cannot undertake expansions for other use.

Meanwhile, workers and other low-income people are languishing for lack of housing, Lao Dong said. — VNS

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