Gas pipeline incident affects Ca Mau power plants

The PM3-CM gas pipeline system, which feeds t wo gas-fired power plants in the southernmost province of Ca Mau, has stopped working due to a valve gas leakage.

According to the Ca Mau Gas Company of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam), the incident occurred at 3:25 pm on March 15, resulting in a supply interruption for the two power plants which have a combined capacity of 1,500 MW.

The company said it would take about three days before the system can resume operation.

To make up for the reduction in electricity output, the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) the same day increased the output of the oil-fuelled O Mon plant and put turbines at the two Ca Mau plants on operation using diesel oil.

Since its operation in 2007, the PM3-CM pipeline has provided more than 7 billion cu.m of gas for the three power and fertiliser plants in the Ca Mau complex.-

Dry season sparks more fire prevention efforts


Localities throughout the nation are taking action to prevent forest fires due to this year's prolonged dry season.

For instance, the southern province of Tay Ninh has taken drastic measures such as building fire belts and intensifying around-the-clock patrols to protect 60,000 ha of forests at risk of large-scale fires.

These forests are located along the border with Cambodia and the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Earlier on March 7, a forest fire was reported at a 0.6 ha area in the forest of Ba Den Mountain. Negligent burning by local residents was believed to be the cause of the fire, according to the provincial Department of Forest Management.

In the Tram Chim National Park in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Dong Thap Province, Director Nguyen Van Hung said guards armed with fire fighting equipment were assigned around the clock to protect the park from forest fires.

The park's management board had also worked with local authorities to increase the distribution of information to raise fire awareness among local residents.

The park covers more than 7,300ha and includes cajeput forests, with most of the trees being 10 to 20 years old.

Other localities nationwide that have been alerted to forest fire risks include Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Gia Lai, Khanh Hoa, Kon Tum, Lam Dong and Son La.

In 2013, nearly 250 fires occurred throughout the country, destroying 965 ha of forests, though no casualties were reported.

The same year, more than 227,000 ha of land nationwide were covered with trees, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The country has targeted to raise the rate of forest coverage to 41.5 per cent this year.

Cars for sale on the streets of Danang

After Tet, many people in the central province of Danang have been selling off their cars because they can no longer afford them in these difficult economic times.

All along some of the local streets of Danang, cars are queued up on the pavement and on road-beds, waiting for customers. Trucks are also displayed for sale on Danang streets these days.

Playing the role of a customer, the reporter called the seller of one of these cars. The seller said the price is VND500 million (USD23,800), adding that the car was owned by him for many years, but due to some financial difficulties, he decided to sell it.

Many other others also complained that they had to sell their cars to pay debts.

Another said he had bought his car three years ago, when he opened a company. In the first years he could afford to pay for the fuel and a driver, but over the past year the company has suffered from losses and petrol prices have gone up. He could not afford the fees for the car, so decided to sell it to pay debts.

Not only streets in Danang, but also on National Highway 1A from Danang to Quang Nam Province, have many cars on display.

A customer named Nguyen Van Quang said, “Amid the economic downturn, if you have money, it's easy for you to buy used cars. It's easier than buying safe vegetables in Vietnam.”

Nguyen Minh T., a second-had car broker, said the number of cars with prices ranging between VND50 million (USD2,380) and VND700 million (USD33,330) have gone up. The buying procedures are very simple and quick. Despite a large number of cars offered for sale, the number of buyers is very modest.

Youth Month held nationwide

Members of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, across the country, have organised activities for Youth Month which is observed the entire month of March.

The Ha Tinh provincial youth union has started construction of three social houses worth VND 90 million each for policy beneficiaries and households living in difficult circumstances in the province.

In Loc Ha district, the Ha Tinh University organised a blood donation drive and collected 245 blood units.

The youth union of the central province of Quang Nam presented a sound system worth VND 60 million to the La EE border station, two computers to Nam Giang border station, and 100 gifts worth VND 20 million each to needy households.

In the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai, the provincial youth union mobilised more than 2,000 members to help upgrade and repair 9km of road in Phuc Loi, Nghia Tam, and Thinh Hung communes.

The Thai Nguyen provincial youth union, in co-ordination with the Association for Former Young Volunteer Central Committee, held a gathering of former young volunteers who made contributions during the wars of resistance.

WB guarantees US$500 million for the expansion of National Highway No.20

The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a member of the World Bank Group, announced that it will guarantee Vietnam access to US$500 million of international loans for the 15-year expansion of National Highway No.20.

Goldman Sachs, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and a syndicate of other international commercial banks will be providing the loans.

The expansion of a 124.77-kilometer section started January 2014.

The National Highway No.20 is the main route connecting Ho Chi Minh City with the Central Highlands.

The project aims to reduce traffic congestion.

Students, patients suffering after effects of Agent Orange receive financial support

Over 100 students and orphans suffering from disabilities caused by Agent Orange in the Ben Tre Province in Mekong delta received scholarships of up to VND 94.5 million (US$4,482) on March 16.

The scholarships were sponsored by Les Amis Du Vietnam, Agent Orange Association, and a Vietnamese woman living in Canada Vo Thi Hao.

On the same day, Japan’s Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company and the Poor Patient Sponsorship Association in Ho Chi Minh City and Minh Thien General Hospital in the central province of Quang Nam carried out operations on cataracts for 200 people in Quang Nam Province.

The insurance company has contributed VND300million to the program with the aim to help people in need.

Hospitals run short of vaccine

Parents in Ho Chi Minh City and neighboring provinces filed complaints against hospitals for not having the six-in-one vaccination available on March 15.

The vaccine gives immunity against deadly childhood diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, hepatitis B (HepB), and meningitis.

Children Hospital No.2 received influx of parents and children waiting for vaccination. Medical staff did not know when hospitals would have vaccinations available.

Pasteur Institute also ran out of the vaccination. A parent in District 4 took his two-month-old infant to the Institute for vaccination in Pasteur Institute where he was told that the institute was short of the vaccine.

Measles, chickenpox, Hepatitis B, seasonal flu, six in one and five in one vaccine are short of in many clinics in the city.

Challenges, opportunities in attracting foreign patients

A large influx of foreigners travelling to Vietnam for healthcare has presented challenges to medical departments.

Sohphineka from Cambodia came to the Medicine University Hospital in District 5 to treat a chronic transverse colon condition that has received multiple failed treatments in Cambodia. Multiple friends referred her to the hospital.

In 2013, the hospital treated more than 17,000 patients including nearly 1, 000 Cambodian citizens, said Professor Nguyen Hoang Bac, deputy director of the Medicine University Hospital.

The People’s Hospital 115 in HCMC receives hundreds of foreign patients annually, said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Phu, the hospital deputy director.

Some cases were cured after failed attempts in treatments in foreign countries.  He recalls a Cambodian man cured of a 12.5-kilogram tumor at the hospital after failed treatments in Thailand and Singapore.

Vietnam is ranked high for successful In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) operations, said Professor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, Chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Association. Many foreigners visit Vietnam to undergo the procedure.

Vietnam has performed IVF cases with a high rate of success. The country is one out of four training centers for reproductive health in Asia, said Professor Phuong.

Vietnam has seen much progress in medical techniques including multi-organ transplants, heart diseases, eye, cosmetic surgeries, dental and endoscopies, according to the Ministry of Health's Treatment and Examination Department. Vietnamese doctors were invited to deliver lecture medical techniques to foreign colleagues.

Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in HCMC’s District 5 is one of three units in the Southeast Asian that are able to perform arthroscopic surgery. People’s Hospital 115 provides training for Cystoscopy to foreign doctors. Medicine University Hospital has a highly-regarded endoscopy training program.

For years, the hospital has transferred techniques to hundreds of Singaporean, Thai, Filipino and Malaysian doctors.

From 2007 to 2013, the hospital has received 850 doctors to study abdominal endoscopy, sinus, joint, urinary tract, and thorax, said Dr. Nguyen Hoang Bac. Cho Ray Hospital has also transferred endoscopy to Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani and Australian physicians for several years.

The Ministry of Health believes local medical units in addition to good performance of advanced techniques should upgrade services and facilities. The Medicine University Hospital has provided additional services such as free interpreting, introduction of hotel, transportation and luxury rooms for rich patients.

Hue, Da Lat nominated for green city awards

Green Hue and Da Lat cities have been nominated to receive the third ASEAN environmentally sustainable cities award.

The award will honour 10 green cities from countries in the Association of South East Asia Nations.

The announcement will be made at the 15th ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Environment, to be held in Lao in September, based upon profiles submitted by city authorities.

The award is designed to increase public awareness about the environment and attract environmental investment programmes into the cities.

National strategy on gender equality shows signs of success

Deputy chairman of HCM City People's Committee Hua Ngoc Thuan has urged the relevant bodies to bolster efforts towards gender quality.

Reviewing the five-year national strategy on gender equality which began in HCM City in 2011, Thuan said that the city's programme on women's rights in the workplace was having a positive impact at senior management level.

The gender equality laws are being propagated and implemented widely through different social programmes, Thuan said, and the city is seeing proof of this.

For instance, the number of women sitting on the party's committee in wards, communes and towns has exceeded targets set prior to the initiative.

The city has also helped enterprises' attract more women to roles, and in rural areas, vocational training programmes have been set up to improve women's earning potential. Over the last three years the number of rural women receiving vocational training in across the 12 districts is 6,674 and 454,820 women have found work. This exceeds the targets set for 2015.

Health care programmes for female workers in industrial and export processing zones have also been improved.

One of the results is that the gender imbalance at birth has reduced, and less women are opting to terminate female fetuses. However, setting long-term targets on the gender imbalance at birth is unrealistic due to issues such as the increase of immigrants arriving in the city, according to the city's report on the national strategy on gender equality.

The report also showed reductions in incidences of domestic violence over the past three years. However women still accounted for 92.5 per cent of domestic violence victims.

Afforestation campaign launched in Thanh Hoa

Cannon Vietnam Co., Ltd on March 16 launched an afforestation campaign in Ben En National Park in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The programme aims to enhance the youngsters’ awareness of environmental protection, said Director Soma Katsuyoshi.

Some 120 ha of protective forests have been replanted under the four-year-old project.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, more than 227,000 hectares of land nationwide were covered with trees in 2013.

The country aims to raise the rate of forest coverage to 41.5 percent this year.

Live TV programme marks Dien Bien Phu victory

War veterans who fought in the Dien Bien Phu battle in 1954 returned to the site and talked to the young generations today about the victory in a live TV programme on March 16.

The programme “Returning to Dien Bien” was broadcast simultaneously from the relic site of A1 Height in the former battle field of Dien Bien Phu, the northern province of Dien Bien, and the Radio and Television Station of northern Thai Nguyen province.

Dinh Hoa Safety Zone (ATK) in Thai Nguyen is known as the place where the nine-year struggle against the French colonialists began and where the Dien Bien Phu campaign was planned.

At the A1 Height, with a burnt tank in the background, the war veterans told their stories about the battle.

Hoang Huu Dan, who used to serve in Transport Company 211, recalled the time when he drove General Vo Nguyen Giap, in his truck to the battlefield, without knowing that he was the General who commanded the winter-spring campaign.

Several documentaries on the 1954 victory as well as the present development of Dien Bien and Thai Nguyen provinces were also screened during the programme, together with art performances by local artists.

On this occasion, the programme presented 30 gifts to 20 war veterans and ten former young volunteers of Thai Nguyen province.-

Bac Giang marks 130th anniversary of Yen The uprising

A solemn ceremony was held in the Hoang Hoa Tham relic site in the northern province of Bac Giang on March 16 to mark the 130 th anniversary of the Yen The uprising.

National Assembly Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong was among the guests at the event, which took place in Cau Go town, Yen The district.

The uprising against the French troop, which began in March 16, 1884, was led by Luong Van Nam and then Hoang Hoa Tham, gathering patriotic people, mostly peasants.

Despite failing to win the final victory, the three-decade uprising mirrored the strength and desires for independence and freedom of Vietnamese people.

With special guerilla tactics as well as lessons in developing forces and building revolutionary bases, the uprising has helped enrich the country’s military history.

Addressing the event, NA Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong described the uprising as the largest waged by peasants, saying it manifested the Vietnamese people’s solidarity and patriotism.

Apart from an art performance featuring the historical time, there were a traditional dress show, martial arts performances and folk games.

The uprising left its traces in Yen The, Tan Yen, Viet Yen and Yen Dung districts, which became special national relics in 2012. The Yen The festival has also been recognised as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage.-

Household livestock farming set for growth

Household livestock production should be developed to reach a larger scale and higher professional level, participants agreed at a meeting on developing household livestock production on Thursday, in Ha Noi.

Addressing the meeting, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam stated that household livestock production would be the leading form of livestock production in the country in the upcoming years. The objective of the meeting was to discuss policies needed for supporting the sector in the period 2014-2020.

Currently, there are some 12 million households in the country involved in livestock production.

Thus, a decision by the Prime Minister on such policies was of great importance as it encouraged the improvement of household livestock production by increasing productivity and lowering the prices of products, noted Nguyen Thanh Son, the director of the Livestock Production Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The draft document by the ministry focuses on offering support to the farmers in areas related to breeding, veterinary, animal feed production, and livestock raising environment. The farmers will also be assisted in establishing chain products and commercial promotion. Training will also be provided to the farmers.

Those eligible for such support are households who raise livestock at a scale smaller than that of a farm according to criteria set by the ministry.

It is expected that once approved, the document will help tackle all the existing problems of the livestock production sector, including small scale production, low productivity, epidemics, and environmental pollution. The issue of low competitiveness will also be addressed.

According to the draft, farmers will receive a certain amount of money if they want to buy breeding livestock and can get their livestock vaccinated for free, which will protect them from certain kinds of epidemics. They will also receive financial support for building biogas tanks for animal waste treatment.

However, Son believes that the draft decision document covers too many supporting areas and might be difficult to execute.

"If we provide little support for everything, it is hard for the farmers to improve their livestock production," he emphasized.

"We should, instead, focus on supporting them in important areas, such as veterinary, artificial animal fertilization, and chain production. These are the very factors that can help to increase household livestock production," he remarked.

Vo Sinh Huy, the head of the Livestock Production of the central Thanh Hoa Province's Department for Agricultural and Rural Development agreed, stating that policy makers should focus on offering technological support to the farmers, rather than giving them money.

Erosion threatens valuable coastal forest

The protection forest along the coast of Tien Giang Province's Go Cong Dong District has become seriously eroded, endangering the lives of local residents and damaging farmland.

The 700ha submerged forest has helped protect dykes, farmland and houses of thousands of households along a 20-km stretch of coast in the Mekong Delta.

From November last year to February, many sections of the forest were seriously eroded by sea waves, according to Le Duc Phong, head of the Protection Forest and Dyke Management Bureau under the province's Sub-department of Irrigation and Storm and Flood Prevention and Control.

In some areas, the width of the forest is only a few dozen metres.

Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the province's Sub-department of Irrigation and Storm and Flood Prevention and Control, said the province had scheduled more inspections and handed out more penalties. In addition, it had raised awareness of local residents about the need to plant and protect forests.

Concrete revetments to protect areas that were destroyed have been built, including a revetment at a 3,500-metre important dyke in Tan Dien Commune.

This year, the province will use nearly VND21 billion (US$1 million) to relocate 1,270 households in erosion-prone areas along rivers and coasts, according to the sub-department.

Private colleges push for better State deal

State leaders and university and college representatives agreed at a conference held here yesterday that the Government needed to level the playing field to allow State-owned and private universities to develop together.

The conference was hosted to review the development of non-State universities, which had been established in the last 20 years.

Professor Tran Hong Quan, chairman of the Association of Non-State Colleges and Universities, said it was unfair that private universities, which operate on a non-profit basis, were still being taxed.

Quan's opinion mirrored that of many other participants, who complained about the unfair treatment meted out by the State towards non-State schools.

Professor Dang Ung Van, principal of Hoa Binh University, said, "Without a fair policy, competition between public and private schools will be skewed, and the latter will always be at a disadvantage."

"While State-owned schools have always received adequate investment, non-State ones have always been on the verge of being kicked out of the market," stated Tran Kim Phuong, chairman of the management board of ASEAN College. She urged the government to create a policy for non-state schools in addressing this issue.

Bui Tran Phuong, the principal of Hoa Sen University, claimed State and non-State universities should be given opportunities to come together for a more straightforward discussion about educational reforms, which could help the country's educational development.

Representatives from non-State schools also complained of social prejudices against them and their students.

They said they were viewed as imparting low-quality education, with an eye on profits.

"The government has earmarked a budget to support students in state-owned schools, but nothing has been set aside for students from non-state schools," complained Quan.

The participants said that employers too didn't favour graduates from non-State colleges as much as they did those from State-owned schools.

In response to these varied opinions, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said he appreciated the straight-forward views from representatives of non-state universities and will seriously consider them.

Dam noted that the problems cited would be resolved when new policies for the fair treatment of schools are put in place in the future.

He, however, acknowledged that implementing solutions would take time.

He also urged non-State schools to improve themselves in the meantime.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga confirmed that by the end of 2013, there were 69 universities and 21 colleges on the non-State side. These accounted for 22 per cent of the total number of universities and colleges nationwide.

World Vision provides safe drinking water

The non-government organisation World Vision has launched a programme to provide clean drinking water to local residents in Quang Tri Province.

Sponsored by P&G, the Children's Safe Drinking Water programme, will deliver more than 20 million litres of clean drinking water to at least 36,000 people in Vinh Linh, Trieu Phong, Huong Hoa and Hai Lang districts where there are frequent floods and water shortages.

The programme costs VND4.5 billion (US$215,000).

Quang Binh to begin satellite TV broadcasts

Quang Binh Radio and Television (QBTV) will start broadcasting via satellite starting in July, director Le Khanh Hoa said yesterday.

QBTV will use Viet Nam Multi-media Corporation to provide the link-up with a seven-hour trial programme next month.

The broadcast signal will be picked up by the Southeast Asian region

Dien Bien gets funds for education sector

Ha Noi's Department of Education and Training yesterday gave VND600 million, or nearly US$29,000, in aid for the education sector in the northern mountainous Dien Bien Province.

The gesture is part of the activities planned to mark the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory, which falls on May 7.

Half of the amount will be used to upgrade the infrastructure and teaching materials at the Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu Primary School.

In a related development, the Ha Noi-Amsterdam High School today awarded five scholarships worth VND500,000, or $24, each to poor students with outstanding academic records at the Ha Noi-Dien Bien Phu Primary School.

Irrigation facilities benefit rice growers in Mekong Delta

Irrigation facilities have helped increase the area of rice in the Mekong Delta region from 3.4 million hectares in 1997 to 4.2 million hectares in 2013, according to the Steering Committee for the Southwestern region.

The committee said the region harvested 24.8 million tonnes of rice in 2013, up 11 million tonnes compared with the rice output in 1997 when irrigation facilities had yet to be built.

Statistics released by the Southern Irrigation Planning Institute show that the region has more than 42,000k of canals, over 80 culverts and some 200 irrigation stations with a total capacity to water 81,620 hectares.


Thanks to its better irrigation system, the region has seen its agro-forestry-fishery production value increase nearly 7 percent each year, the institute said.

Irrigation facilities in the low-lying area of Dong Thap Muoi have prevented floods from spreading via borders while ensuring the safety for the summer-autumn harvest which usually falls in the flood season.

Meanwhile, in Long Xuyen Quadrangle, irrigation facilities have been upgraded to control the annual flood in August and provide water for summer-autumn and winter-spring seasons.

Presently, irrigation facilities in Ca Mau peninsula and to the left of the Tien River are being upgraded.

Such facilities have ensured water for about 10 million people or 66 percent of the region’s population.