Surprise find at Southern Landfill

ELTSO participant Mr Diep with his landfill shop purchase
ELTSO participant Mr Diep with his landfill shop purchase

A visit to the Southern Landfill proved more than an inspiration to Mr Nguyen Ngoc Diep, a visiting government official from Hanoi, Deputy General Director of the Economic Department of the Office of the Government of Vietnam. His Department takes responsibility for urban management and development which includes urban infrastructure, water supply, rubbish disposal and some construction projects.

“Now, my city is facing the problem of dealing with rubbish. All of city’s landfills are being used over their capacity and sewage treatment has become a serious issue for residents. The local government is trying to find land in Hanoi to be used for landfills and we would like to set up modern landfills like Wellington’s,” he said.
But it wasn’t only inspiration and ideas he found at the tip. He also found a picture of his own house!
On this visit with Wellingtonian Annie Mercer, they explored Second Treasures, the Southern Landfill Shop. Upstairs Annie pointed to a pile of National Geographics. She picked one at random, casually mentioning that there are often articles on Vietnam.  There on the front was a picture of a Vietnamese woman illustrating the lead story, “Hanoi, the soul of Vietnam”, published in 2004.
“I opened it up and inside was a photo of the street where I live. I pointed out my house and also my car park.” said Diep. “It is very modern this landfill. They collect things that can be re-used for people to buy. I like this. And the magazine was only $1!”
“We want to develop landfills like this that use technology, produce compost and generate  electricity  but when we do find land suitable people always stage protests at the  site because  in their experience landfills produce pollution. The answer is for us to invest in technology like Wellington does. Also the rubbish collection system in Wellington is very good.”
In New Zealand on the English language Training for Senior Officials Programme (ELTSO),  Diep has just spent two months on an intensive English language course at Victoria University along with 16  other senior officials from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
As part of the course he met Wellington City Council urban planners, taking away more ideas for urban management, housing development and quality management in the construction sector include reducing population density in the city centre and increasing social and technical infrastructure like parks and gardens for the 6.5 million people in his home city of Hanoi.  For five years he participated in the group which examined master planning for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City before approval by the PM. “Now we are implementing a social housing project to spend more than 30,000 billion Vietnam Dong (more than a billion US dollars) for low income people.”
“As our economy is developing, currently 5.5-7 percent growth per annum, we try reducing the gap between rich and poor and avoid the problem that the more the economy develops, the more this gap increases,” he said.
Diep went to the landfill with Annie Mercer who is his conversation partner.  She is one of a number who volunteer their time to the participants on the ELTO programme showing them the sights of Wellington, places of relevance to their work and above all giving them lots of practice at speaking English.
"Diep so enjoyed his first visit to the tip that he asked me to take his colleagues there too! I was astounded when we came across the article which had a photo of his house. I think I got as much out of being a conversation partner as the visiting officials did. And as you can see from this article we got to choose where we took them!" she said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer with the ELTO Programme should visit the website www. – ELTO.


The photo showing his house and carpark