Investor apologizes for bad construction on major expressway in Vietnam

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 A 20-km section of an expressway connecting HCMC and Dong Nai province was open to traffic on January 2 / PHOTO: MAI VONG

The investor, contractor and consultant of a new major expressway in southern Vietnam made apologies at its opening ceremony on Thursday after media exposure of sloppy building on the project.

Vietnam Expressway Corporation, investor of the 55-km expressway connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the southern province of Dong Nai, and its partners apologized for their failings during speeches before a 20-km section of the road was opened to traffic.

Last week, following a tip-off from an ex-worker with the project, Thanh Nien found that a number of concrete and metal barriers and center dividers on the finished section were not built following approved designs.

The concrete blocks, to be buried in the ground to hold metal poles upright, were much smaller than they should have been, and the metal poles were improperly placed in the blocks.

After the exposure, the investor, contractor South Korean-owned Posco E&C, and the consultant and supervisor a joint venture between Japanese-owned Nippon Koei and Vietnamese-owned TEDI South, together with 11 of their leaders and employees were either censured or suspended.

The contractor was ordered to repair the substandard barriers and dividers that have been estimated to cost VND240 million (US$11,200) as of the opening day which was first slated on December 30, but after the media's reports, it was delayed to January 2 due to "several external reasons."

With the total investment of over VND20.6 trillion ($961.85 million) co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the opened section connects HCMC's District 9, and Dong Nai's Long Thanh District.

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It has four lanes plus two emergency ones, allowing vehicles to travel at speed of 100-120 kilometers per hour. Cars weighing more than 10 tons are temporarily not allowed to use the section.

The new road will almost halve the distance from HCMC to Long Thanh from 45 km to 22 km, and cut travel time to 20 minutes, or one-third of the old time.

Meanwhile, the distance from the city to the southern resort town of Vung Tau will decrease from 120 km to 95 km, and travel time from about 2.5 hours to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The whole expressway was expected to be put into use next year, according to Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong.

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