Hundreds of vehicles breakdown on new Vietnam expressway

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More than 300 vehicles breaking down on a new expressway linking Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta over the past two weeks were mostly because of the age and conditions of the vehicles, officials said.

They denied speculation that the major expressway, which was temporarily opened to traffic on February 3, has a surface that is too rough for automobiles to travel at high speeds.

Le Trung Ngoan, deputy director of the HCMC â€" Trung Luong Highway Management Center, said 308 breakdowns have been reported on the 40-kilometer speedway, with trucks accounting for half of them.

Most of the vehicles that broke down were too old and failed to meet safety requirements, Ngoan told Thanh Nien Thursday.

Do Ngoc Dung, deputy general director of the My Thuan Project Management Unit that invested in the expressway, said some vehicles had broken down after their engines  had heated up while trucks had overloaded themselves beyond capacity and driven at high speeds, causing their tires to burst.

He said the road surface was covered with a layer of special substance used on highways in the United States and is completely safe for cars.

The project, which costs VND9.88 trillion (US$535 million), is considered one of the country’s most modern expressways to date. It is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2011.

As of now, only four-wheeled vehicles like cars, trucks and buses are allowed to use the expressway. Tractors, motorbikes or three-wheeled vehicles, caterpillar trucks, and vehicles carrying toxic and/or inflammable materials are not allowed to use it.

Ngo Ngoc Son, deputy head of the Vietnam Register’s Mechanized Vehicles Verification Department, said drivers need to check their vehicles’ engines and tires carefully before using the expressway.

Reported by Mai Vong-Hoang Phuong

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