Hanoi’s satellite areas: a dream that may not come true
The development of satellite urban areas is expected to help Hanoi share the burden of accommodation, training, industry and services, but resources are needed to develop this model, according to experts.
The Xuan Mai satellite urban area is quite slovenly. Experts said that resources are needed to develop the satellite urban model.
Under the Masterplan for Hanoi’s socio-economic development to 2020, with a vision to 2030, the capital city will have five satellite towns with different functions and characteristics, including Hoa Lac, Son Tay, Xuan Mai, Phu Xuyen and Soc Son.
The main role of the Hoa Lac satellite town will be to serve science and technology development and training, while Son Tay satellite town has been selected as the urban area of historic culture and resort tourism.
Xuan Mai satellite town will be the urban area of services - industries supporting the development of small industries and craft village systems; Phu Xuyen satellite town is dedicated to industry, transportation hubs, and transshipment of goods; and Soc Son satellite town will focus on the development of industry and air services, eco-resort tourism, medical centers and universities.
Director of the Institute of Construction and Urban Economics, Pham Sy Liem, said at a recent conference on satellite urban areas for Hanoi that these are designed to ease the burden on cities, particularly coping with such “diseases” as pollution, traffic congestion, infrastructure shortage and social ills.
The head of the Hanoi Institute of Socio-economic Development Study, Nguyen Hong Son, said satellite towns were effective and necessary solutions to the population growth, expected to reach 6.2 million by 2020-2030, and to the pressure on infrastructure and environmental pollution in the city centre.
The number of vehicles in Hanoi keeps increasing, reaching 5.4 million motorbikes and 600,000 cars by September this year, which leads to regular traffic jams.
However, Hanoi is facing many difficulties in building the satellite town as planned.
Former vice chairman of the municipal People’s Council, Le Van Hoat, said there were still no policies and programmes to encourage the development of satellite urban areas. The city also faced challenges in mobilising investment for developing the infrastructure, he said.
The development of satellite urban areas requires huge amounts of capital, while the budget earmarked for building and developing satellite urban areas remains limited, according to Sơn.
Investment in recent years focussed on developing infrastructure for the city centre, not for suburban areas, he said.
Participants at the conference agreed that it was harder to attract investors when the infrastructure and planning system was yet to be completed.
Given Hanoi’s lack of preferential policies to develop satellite urban areas, many investors decided to invest in neighbouring provinces such as Thai Nguyen and Bac Ninh, they said.
Another difficulty facing the development of satellite urban areas is the population spread, according to former vice chairman Hoat. Encouraging people to move to satellite towns is a key to their success but the habit of house ownership also hinders this task. Not many people who own a house in the city centre want to move to satellite towns to live.
he head of the Hanoi Institute of Construction Planning, Nguyen Truc Anh, said Hanoi would need to have mechanisms and policies as well as supporting services to attract investment in satellite urban areas. Measures to attract city residents to live and work in satellite towns were also important, he said.
Many participants suggested that Hanoi develop a transport system to connect the city centre with satellite towns. However, all agreed that this, too, would require investment resources.