A file photo of a train in Hanoi. Photo: M.Vong
Vietnam Railways Thursday sacked the CEO of its Hanoi operations for "failing to comply with investment procedures" for drafting a plan to buy 164 railroad cars that have been used for 12-20 years in China, news website VnExpress reported.
Nguyen Viet Hiep has been transferred to as deputy chief of the office of the national railway manager, it said.
Hiep was punished on the orders of Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang, who acted after the media reported about the plan Wednesday, sparking off public criticism.
Thang too criticized the plan, saying it flouted the country’s regulations on importing used machinery.
The Hanoi Railway Transport Company claimed to have secured Vietnam Railways' approval, but Tran Ngoc Thanh, chairman of the latter, told VnExpress there was no such proposal from the subsidiary though he admitted to being aware it had sent a team to China to study the possibility.
The plan stirred controversy since it came amid attempts to upgrade the overused train system so that it can compete with the increasingly affordable air services.
Asked about the plan, Hiep said, "No one does not want to buy new cars, but we have to consider our financial capacity."
He said the Chinese offered the coaches at VND210 million apiece, while it costs VND1 billion to buy a new one in Vietnam.
Commenting on his punishment, he said: "It's fine. I see it as a mishap."