To pass or not to pass

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Bridge under repair a link to ill-gotten gains

More residents should speak up and authorities should show more determination to bring to book the people who have been handing out permits for vehicles to cross a major bridge in Hanoi that is under repair.

They must have so far collected billions of dong from their venture, the legality of which is clouded in ambiguity.

Since the repairs began late October, trucks and 12-seat buses or above are banned from crossing the bridge from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, vehicles that produce a paper that reads “CTL” (Cau Thang Long) or “TL” for “Thang Long” can still pass through, repair or no repair.

Drivers say that these permits are given out for several million dong depending on the size and type of vehicle, and the passengers have to cover that extra cost. Some of the permits carry the stamp of the Vietnam Road Inspection Department. There are middlemen in the fray as well, who approach drivers looking to obtain a permit.

Once the news made headlines, the department was forced to revoke its permit and fine those using it.

The public was also informed that vehicles can pass for several hundred thousands of dong each time and no permit will be needed. Officials at one end of the bridge will take the money and tell those at the other end through their walkie-talkies to let the vehicle go.

The questions are obvious. Who has the right to grant permits or allow vehicles to go through? Where did they get the authorization to do this? And where has the money gone from this trade in permits? To the state budget or someone’s pockets?

City authorities have to answer these questions or the public will lose their confidence in the government, which is not good at all for the country’s development.

For sure, some agencies will again try to evade these questions using the old argument “show us the evidence!” or try to pass the buck saying it is not “our responsibility.”

One Hanoi traffic police officer has said, “We really wish residents can provide information on the wrongdoing,” but added “There must be evidence. The residents must name the people, they cannot pass a general comment.”

The evidence is not hard to find if those who were told to buy the permits speak up. That’s the responsibility of a citizen and they shouldn’t hesitate to do that. If they just keep silent and let it go, officials will continue committing more and more serious wrongdoings.

And even if the residents don’t say anything, the authorities can still find the evidence if they really want to do so.

By Nguyen Quang A (Lao Dong)

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