Shoddy road projects threaten public safety in Vietnam

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The motorbike belonging to Nguyen Van Vu, 28, fell into a sinkhole at the construction site of a water-related project on Che Lan Vien Street in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, on September 6, 2013


Some carelessly implemented infrastructure projects on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City are endangering residents, and authorities have yet to address the problem in any meaningful way.


Nguyen Van Vu, 28, recently became a victim of a project to install water meters. On the evening of September 6, he was driving a motorbike on Che Lan Vien Street in Tan Phu District when he fell into a construction site sinkhole.


The sinkhole was part of the project invested by Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco); the Minh Thong Limited Company was in charge of construction.


The contractor of the project did not install warning lights and the barriers surrounding the construction site were erected carelessly. Heavy rains led to the accident.


Vu was lucky enough to only sustain minor injuries.


Another project to build a road linking Tan Son Nhat International Airport to the Linh Xuan intersection has also become notorious because of the recklessness of its main contractor South Korea's GS Engineering and Construction Corporation (GS E&C).


Cao Xuan Loc, an inspector with HCMC Department of Transport, said GS E&C has shown little regard for safety regulations as it did not erect warning signs or fences outside its construction sites and failed to return the road to its original condition after digging it up.


The company has also left dozens of manholes uncovered along the streets stretching from the Nguyen Thai Son intersection in Go Vap District to the Le Quang Dinh intersection in Binh Thanh District for several weeks now. The area is quite crowded and close to schools, posing risks to road users, especially during rainy season.


Due to the construction, an electric pole located within the company's construction site also became tilted in the direction of a house in Go Vap District's Ward 3.


Although the risks such works posed to road users are clear, local authorities have only issued paltry fines.


GS E&C was repeatedly warned by the HCMC Transport Department, but was fined just VND28.5 million (US$1,350) after the warnings were went unheeded.


Minh Thong Company was fined only VND25 million ($1,185) for the sinkhole which injured Vu.


Some contractors found to have violated safety regulations have put off paying the fines for years, according to Nguyen Bat Han, deputy chief inspector of the HCMC Transport Department.


Dang Van Khoa, a former deputy of the HCMC People's Council, the city's legislature, told Thanh Nien the supervisors, and even the investors of the projects must have colluded with careless contractors to allow such poor quality work to take place.


On the other hand, as authorities have yet to press criminal charges against a single contractor, the careless construction continues, he explained.

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