The project was given approval from the provincial People’s Committee back in July 2000. It was to cover 160ha in the commune and receive money from the Ministry of Fisheries.
The first phase of the project was completed in 2001 at a total cost of over VND17 billion ($1 million) and was divided into five contract packages to build basic facilities, including 44 ponds, 44 drains and a pump station.
Four out of the five contract packages were completed by late 2003.
Problems started with the last contract package to build a pump station and steel water pipeline at an estimated cost of over VND2 billion. Khanh Phuong Ltd Co from Nha Trang City were in charge of construction.
"Local authorities and people living in the project area have complained to authorised agencies many times about the issue but received no reply."
Doan Cong Nhan, chairman of the Cam Thinh Dong Commune’s People’s Committee.
After extensive delays, building work was finally wrapped up in 2007, although it had been scheduled for completion in early 2004.
Tran Van Ot, deputy head of the economic bureau of Cam Ranh Township said the company had asked to change construction material from steel to cast iron because of rising steel prices so it had taken more time for the company to get a licence from the provincial People’s Committee. There had also been hold ups with procedures to apply for the installation of a pump station in neighbouring Ninh Thuan Province, he said.
The problem was that the completed stages of the project were gradually falling into disrepair. Pump stations and drains and tens of hectares of ponds were now becoming overgrown with weeds, many locals said.
But their complaints were falling on deaf ears, said Doan Cong Nhan, chairman of the Cam Thinh Dong Commune’s People’s Committee. "Local authorities and people living in the project area have complained to authorised agencies many times about the issue but received no reply."
Hundreds of local farmers had to leave their farms for land to be cleared for the project. Many were promised jobs on the large-scale farm but now they have to find alternative ways to earn money.
"My family had 1,800sq.m of water surface for shrimp raising, which earned us VND50 million ($2,900) each year but since the project was started, we have no land for production and must do temporary jobs like bricklaying, fishing or raising cows to have enough to eat," said local farmer Doan Cong Lam.
Do Manh Hung, a farmer who had raised shrimp in the area for more than 10 years, said his family got VND13 million ($764) in exchange for their land. The project management board also promised they would get jobs once the plan was fully operational.
"The management board promised to give us 1,800sq.m of water surface so we could raise shrimp again once the project was put into operation," he said.
An official from the communal People’s Committee said authorities have planned to transfer the project to Thong Thuan Seafood Company in Ninh Thuan Province.