Transport minister suspends senior official over road defects

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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Transport Minister Dinh La Thang inspects a construction project. Photo: Dinh Toan Transport Minister Dinh La Thang inspects a construction project. Photo: Dinh Toan

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Transport Minister Dinh La Thang has suspended the head of a road management agency after local media reported about defects on a newly-upgraded section of the National Highway 1A.
Nguyen Viet Phuong, head of the Road Management Agency No. II.2, was held responsible for the defects found on the section linking Thanh Hoa to Ha Tinh, according to the Road Management Department.
According to Phuong, some areas sunk under the pressure of overloaded trucks and other parts were degraded due to leaked diesel oil from a traffic accident in December last year. He then instructed the constructor – Project Management Unit No. 85 – to repair these spots, but local media raised questions over the quality of the upgrading works.
The ministry believed Phuong did not follow required procedures for reporting and fixing road defects.
It is unclear how long the suspension will be. 
The upgrading project on the 315-km (196 mile) section was completed on January 31. It cost VND5.5 trillion (US$254.8 million). 
At a meeting with the National Traffic Safety Committee on March 31, transport minister Thang announced stronger measures to fight against oversight. 
“Any road management unit allowing overloaded trucks to damage roads will be punished,” he said.
Since taking the position in 2011, Thang has made strong statements and taken tough actions against violations under his jurisdiction.
Last year, he suspended Nguyen Huu Thang, director of Vietnam Railways for a comment that some said badly affected the prestige of the transport ministry.
The director had reportedly said “a little adjustment has inspired so much fanfare," when commenting on criticism over increasing costs of the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway project that his company was the main contractor.

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