Four former and current executives have been detained in connection with alleged irregularities in the construction and work approval of a 139-kilometer-long expressway connecting Danang with Quang Ngai Province.
Nguyen Tien Thanh, then-director of the Danang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project Management Board, speaks at a press briefing in 2018 – PHOTO: ZING.VN
The Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on Thursday that its investigators are looking into a serious construction mismanagement case involving the Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) and VEC’s Danang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project Management Board.
As part of the probe, the investigators detained Nguyen Tien Thanh, former director of the Danang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project Management Board; Ha Van Binh, former director of the Executive Board for Package No.7; Nguyen Thanh An, a board member of Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No.1 (Cienco 1) and deputy director of the Executive Board for Package No.7; and Pham Dinh Phu, deputy general director of Phuong Thanh Tranconsin and director of the Executive Board for Package No.5.
These individuals are charged with infringing regulations on construction, leading to serious consequences, based on the 2015 Penal Code. They are alleged to have committed violations during the construction and work approval process of the expressway.
The four-land expressway, which costs a total of VND34.5 trillion (US$1.7 billion), funded by government bond sales and loans from the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, stretches 139.2 kilometers in the central region crossing through Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces and Danang City.
Touted as an artery road linking major economic centers and forming part of the ambitious North-South Expressway project, the road was formally opened to traffic on September 2 last year, but just weeks later, many sections were riddled with potholes, some measuring up to half a meter.
A section of the Danang-Quang Ngai Expressway in Phu Ninh District of Quang Nam Province is severely damaged with potholes and cracks in November 2019 – PHOTO: VNA
On being questioned by the press in October 2018, Nguyen Tien Thanh, then-director of the Danang-Quang Ngai Expressway Project Management Board as the project owner, initially identified bad weather as the primary cause of the deterioration.
He noted that downpours in early October coupled with heavy-duty trucks being driven on the road had caused the surface to crumble, resulting in potholes and cracks.
The Road Directorate of Vietnam then stepped in, accusing the project owner and contractors of being responsible for the poor state of the road. “The fault rests with the construction quality, not the weather,” a representative of the Road Directorate is quoted as saying in the Hanoi-based newspaper An Ninh Thu Do.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport sided with the Road Directorate, stressing that poor construction quality was the culprit, while Minister Nguyen Van The twice issued warnings to VEC for several shortcomings associated with this expressway project, from construction quality to failure to ensure traffic safety.
Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh stated that the excuses made by Thanh were unreasonable, and he requested the Ministry of Transport to make a detailed report on the serious state of disrepair.
Later that month, VEC took disciplinary action against the individuals and groups responsible for supervising the quality of the expressway.
Among them, Thanh was suspended from his post for slow progress in repairing damaged road surfaces, providing inadequate and delayed information to the press and shirking his responsibilities. SGT
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