Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang last Friday made media headlines when he frankly said that he felt ashamed when reading a year-end report submitted by the railway corporation.
Thang challenged the report, which stated that 97.5 per cent of railway staff gave "excellent performance" in 2013, while, according to him, the railway corporation was operating rather poorly. Indeed, he said the railway system had stagnated for years.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong, in an interview with the media on the sideline of a conference earlier this year, that the railway sector's contribution to the transport industry was on the decrease, in contrast to the fast growth of road and air travel, which enjoy growth of up to 19 per cent.
A report by the Viet Nam Railway Corporation reveals that the railway sector last year earned a total of VND11.3 trillion (US$538 million), compared to about VND70 trillion ($3.33 billion) earned by the airline industry.
Thang also revealed that Vu Thi Huyen Duc, chief executive of the Vinasugar 1 Company, once texted him to ask for help. Thang said Duc needed to urgently transport goods to the northern border province of Lao Cai for delivery to China, but the railway corporation had delayed the delivery for weeks. The problem was only resolved when Thang intervened.
Frowning upon the poor performances by the railway sector, Thang said that the railway corporation seemed to be waiting for customers to come rather than spending money on persuading them to travel. He called this "magic".
Begging is profitable work
To find out how beggars earn their livelihoods, reporters on Tam Guong (Mirror) newspaper recently acted as beggars at a petrol station in District 11 in HCM City.
The reporters said they each collected more than VND50,000 ($2.30) in an hour. Considering that an average blue-collar worker earns VND150,000-200,000 a day for eight or more hours of hard work, this is not bad at all!
"All you need is to wear dirty and worn clothes, put on a miserable face and ask for charity," the reporters said. Their action reflects the increasing emergence of beggars on the streets in the city.
According to the newspaper, while many destitute people resort to begging, many others not so poor just want to take advantage of people's kindness. The reporters said they witnessed a woman ride a motorbike to District 10's Nguyen Chi Thanh Street to work as beggar with the "help" of her children. She parked her motorbike and then sat on a mat with her smallest baby, hoping for people's sympathy.
Many passers-by were moved at the woman's "plight" and offered her money. It seems that the problem lacks few controls. If the authorities continue to turn a blind eye, perhaps in the future begging will become a profession in the city. Maybe there's a need for vocational courses! — VNS