Shoddy work by contractors in covering and repaving streets after construction works was not the cause of sinkholes that have appeared on many streets in Ho Chi Minh City, a city official said Thursday.
Tran Quang Phuong, director of the city's Department of Transport, said the sinkholes were produced by various causes, including excessive exploitation of underground water.
Only 21 of the 57 recorded sinkholes happened during construction work, he told a meeting of the HCMC People's Council.
However, the city's lawmakers rejected Phuong's explanation as an attempt to evade responsibility.
Lawmaker Nguyen Dang Nghia cited a statement of the city's People's Committee and a conclusion announced at a meeting held by the city's Communist Party Unit as saying that sinkholes were caused by poor post-construction restoration.
Meanwhile, Dao Anh Kiet, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said if excessive exploitation of underground water was the real cause, sinkholes would occur on a much larger scale, not one in each location.
"There is no cause-effect relationship between underground water exploitation and sinkholes," Kiet said.
"I'm surprised and disappointed by Phuong's answer," said Vo Van Sen, another city legislator.
"[The answer] people are waiting is who will take the main responsibility, but all we are seeing is that you're passing the buck," Sen told Phuong.
Asked if sinkholes will stop appearing in six months, Phuong said he couldn't answer the question, because his department only manages the streets' surface, and another agency is in charge of drainage systems and underground works.
Phuong said all the sinkholes have been recorded and concerned agencies would take responsibility of each of them.
The money spent on repairs will not be taken from the state budget, the director said.