Vietnam suspends officials after scaffolding collapses at embattled elevated railway

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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Ruins as frames and concrete collapsed at a Hanoi elevated railway project on December 28, 2014. Photo: Dan Ha Ruins as frames and concrete collapsed at a Hanoi elevated railway project on December 28, 2014. Photo: Dan Ha

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The transport ministry on Sunday afternoon suspended several officials and a subcontractor in charge of a Chinese-contracted Hanoi railway project where a scaffolding and mass of concrete collapsed in the morning.
The ministry barred Vietnam Technology Consultant and Construction Investment JSC (Vinacontech) from all work at Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway.
Vinacontech, which was directly in charge of the part, is blamed for the incident that took place at 4 am Sunday, when the scaffolding and a frame under construction at Ha Dong terminal collapsed while concrete was being poured in, smashing several parked cars.
“The accident caused no casualties,” the ministry said in its statement.
The ministry suspended Ta Trung Van, a consultant overseeing the terminal, and censured the project’s chief consultant Diem Chi Cuong. Their responsibility in the accident is being probed further.
Nguyen Van Bao, deputy director of the Railway Project Management Unit, was also suspended pending further investigation.
The ministry has ordered the main contractor, China Railway Sixth Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned enterprise, to urge its subcontractors to expedite the clearance of the rubble and ensure safety for travelers.
Traffic in the area has resumed.

Workers try to retrieve a taxi from iron frames that collapsed at a Hanoi elevated railway project on December 28, 2014. Photo credit: VietNamNet
“The main contractor has to take full responsibility and cover all the cost incurred by the accident,” the ministry said in its statement.
Nguyen Hong Truong, vice minister of transport, has arrived at the site to direct the cleanup of the mess and the ongoing investigation.
“We are scrambling to handle the incident by today,” Truong said.
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and Transport Minister Dinh La Thang have been urging the project’s managers to speed up for trial run in October next year and to open the railway to traffic by the end of next year.
The officials have panned the Chinese contractor for various delays that have added US$339 million to the project's cost. Its initial estimation in 2008 was US$552 million.
The Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway project was first scheduled to break ground in August 2008 and finish in November 2013.
State-owned Vietnam Railways was tasked with overseeing the project, which only started in October 2011.
The 13-km of elevated track was planned to stretch from Cat Linh Street to Yen Nghia Bus Station in Ha Dong District making stops at 12 stations.
On November 6, another accident at the project 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, injuring three other people.

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