Officials demoted, reprimanded in Hanoi scaffolding collapse

By Thai Son - Le Quan, Thanh Nien News

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A taxi was smashed by iron bars from a scaffolding that fell apart at a Hanoi's elevated railway project on December 28, 2014. Photo: Minh Sang A taxi was smashed by iron bars from a scaffolding that fell apart at a Hanoi's elevated railway project on December 28, 2014. Photo: Minh Sang

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The head official of a government-funded railway project in Hanoi has been demoted and two other officials reprimanded in the wake of the scaffolding collapse at the railway construction in Hanoi.
Nguyen Manh Hung, the acting general director of the Railway Project Management Unit (PMU), will step down to serve as a deputy general director of the PMU as of Jan. 10, according to a decision issued Monday by Transport Minister Dinh La Thang.
Hung’s unit operates under the state-owned Vietnam Railways, which was tasked with overseeing the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway project.
Construction of the railway was suspended on Sunday after supporting scaffolding holding up the concrete suddenly collapsed at 4 a.m. Sunday when workers were building the Ha Dong terminal.
A taxi traveling under the construction was buried under concrete and iron beams, but the driver and three passengers were rescued. Several parked cars in the area were also smashed.
Initial examination by the Construction Ministry's Construction Quality Examination Department found that the concerned scaffolding was weak.
Pham Minh Ha, head of the department, said he has checked the site himself.
Thang on Monday also issued warnings for Nguyen Van Bao, deputy general director of the Railway PMU. Bao was already suspended from his post after the accident occurred.
Trieu Khac Dung, deputy general director of the Transport Ministry's Quality Management Department, was also reprimanded.
Thang criticized the two for making mistakes in managing the construction. He called the incident a “serious loss of safety.”
In the afternoon of the accident, Thang censured the project’s chief consultant Diem Chi Cuong and suspended Ta Trung Van, a consultant in charge of Ha Dong terminal, indefinitely.
By Monday evening, the site has not been cleared completely.
Traffic on Tran Phu Street below the project has not gone back to normal, as many vehicles had to use the public bus lane.
The Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway was planned to stretch from Cat Linh Street to Yen Nghia Bus Station in Ha Dong District making stops at 12 stations.
The 13-km track was originally slated for ground breaking in August 2008 and finish in November 2013.
But it only started in October 2011.
China Railway Sixth Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned enterprise and the main contractor, has been delaying the project and caused the initial estimated cost of US$552 million to increase by another $339 million.
The collapse on Sunday was the second accident reported at the site since Vietnam government officials urged the project’s managers to speed up for trial run next October and to open the railway to traffic by the end of next year.
The other accident on November 6 killed bike rider Nguyen Nhu Ngoc, 33, on the spot.
A crane was lifting a steel rod when its cable suddenly broke, and the rod fell and hit several motorbikes,killing Ngoc and injuring three other people.
Trinh Dinh Dung, Minister of Construction, said: “[The collapse] once again rang a warning bell over the lack of safety at the project.”
Dung said agencies managing the projects need to halt the construction to look over their safety measures.

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