S. Korean builder pledges to fix cracks in new Vietnam highway

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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A long crack on the brand-new Noi Bai - Lao Cai Expressway. Photo: Mai Ha A long crack on the brand-new Noi Bai - Lao Cai Expressway. Photo: Mai Ha

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South Korea’s Keangnam Enterprise has promised to repair the cracks and sinkage in a newly-opened expressway in northern Vietnam it built, blaming the damage on the loose foundation.
The US$1.5-billion, 245-km Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, which connects Hanoi with the rural northwest, made headlines after cracks opened up just a few days after it opened to traffic on September 21.
“This incident caused a public outcry and badly affected the prestige of the Ministry of Transport, the investor Vietnam Expressway Corporation, and Keangnam,” Hae-Nam Jang, chairman and CEO of Keangnam Enterprise Ltd., admitted in a letter sent recently to Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang.
“This regrettable incident happened at Km 82 and 83 due to issues with the unusual geological conditions badly affecting the road’s surface.
“We would like to stress that we strictly followed technical standards under the supervision of consultants. We assert that there was no corruption by the investor, the consultants, or Keangnam.”
Japan’s Oriental Consultants was the design consultant and Spain’s Getinsa, the supervising consultant.
Jang said Keangnam would “completely fix the cracks and sinkage.”
Earlier this month Minister Thang ordered the Vietnam Expressway Corporation to repair the damage by December 20.
In the letter, Jang also apologized for the several delays in building the highway. 
“As the main contractor of the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, Keangnam apologizes to the Vietnamese government and people for the delays in two packages, A4 and A5,” Jang wrote.
These two packages were completed in August following several delays and media reports of incompetence, shoddy work, and problems with equipment, money, and personnel.
Unhappy with the pace of the work, Thang had threatened last June to scrap the contract with Keangnam if it failed to speed up things. He also ordered the investor to hire other contractors to carry out parts of Keangnam’s job.

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