PM orders investigation into southern port corruption

TN News

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The Prime Minister has asked the Ministries of Transport and Finance to investigate suspected corruption at a southern port authority that made headlines recently for its unfair treatment to tugboats.


Several newspapers have reported the alleged unfair treatment by the Vung Tau Port Authority, which tugboat companies argue gives preferential treatment to some at the expense of others, the PM said in the statement issued Tuesday, the Sai Gon Tiep Thi reported.


Some reports also alleged that the port authority imported three Mongolian boats without paying tariffs.


The ministries have been asked to report on the investigation by October 15.


Officials from the Vietnam Maritime Administration met with local tugboat firms and the Vung Tau Port Authority about the issues September 7, but the agency has not announced any conclusions on the matter.


Investigators from the administration and the Ministry of Public Security have also been sent to Vung Tau, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City, to inquire about the allegations.


A report on the Saigon Tiep Thi last month said that Le Van Chien, director of the Vung Tau Port Authority, has established two family firms, Bien Xanh Transport JSC and Vung Tau Towing Company, Ltd., which were the only two that recently received exceptions from many harsh regulations imposed by the authority.


The regulations banned boats longer than 300 meters from entering local ports and asked towing companies to use at least two towers equipped with Azimuth propellers.


Many tugboat companies, such as SP PSA, a joint venture between Saigon Port and a Singapore firm, and Hai Van Transport Company, Ltd., are now unable to bring in their customers, many of whom use boats of 302 meters or longer.


Many container boat owners had to hire the two preferred firms  knowing that they are not as capable as some others, sources said.


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