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Will Viet Nam's cable car be safe?

Update: February, 13/2015 - 12:00

We are two months' away from seeing the opening of the world's longest cable car, which will go up Mount Fansipan.

However, there is a big question to be asked.

Will it be safe enough?

There are worries that the people building it did not go through all the correct steps to get permission to do so.

Great heights: A group of young adventures on the Fansipan Peak. Once operational in April 30, a three-rope cable car system will carry passengers from the bottom to the highest point of the mountain.
Great heights: A group of young adventures on the Fansipan Peak. Once operational in April 30, a three-rope cable car system will carry passengers from the bottom to the highest point of the mountain. - Photo Facebook Hoi Nhung Nguoi Thich Leo Dinh PhanXiPang

LAO CAI (VNS) — The world's longest three-rope cable-car system, extending from Lao Cai Province's Sapa Town to Fansipan peak, is expected to open in April.

However, the public has begun to doubt of the security of the cable system after Lao Dong newspaper reported that the project was begun in November 2013 before the Sun Group corporation, the project's investor, received the necessary licence papers from the Lao Cai Construction Department.

On December 16, 2014, the provincial Construction Department issued an official document saying that the investors should not ask for licence papers because the project was ratified by the local People's Committee.

Based on this document, the local People's Committee issued an official document affirming that the works in this project were exempt from licence papers.

But on December 30, 2014, the local Construction Department issued another document saying that the work could not be exempted. It then asked the investors to follow the right process to apply for the papers.

It's difficult to know if the Construction Department is right or not, but it seems clear that investors carried out construction before it got an official opinion from the Construction Department and the Lao Cai People's Committee on whether it was entitled to exemption.

In an official document issued on October 29, 2014, the local Construction Department affirmed that it had not ratified the project to build the 7.75ha station leading to the peak of Mount Fansipan and the cable buttress tower. However, by then, the work on the station and the buttress were already almost finished.

Many people wonder why, when the provincial Construction Department recognised this mistake of the investors, it didn't think of imposing any fines.

Considering the grandiose scale of the project, the licence and safety problems worried many people. Experts warned that to ensure the security of visitors, investors should have strictly respected construction conditions.

The construction of the cable car is being carried out during the first phase of the Fansipan Sapa tourism complex.

The project has a total investment of VND2.6 trillion, or nearly US$110 million.

The 6.5km long cable car can carry a maximum of 2,000 passengers an hour, with each cabin accommodating 34 passengers.

Once operational, the cable car will transport passengers from the base of the 3,143-metre Fansipan mountain to its highest point in 15 to 20 minutes. Currently, it takes one to two days to trek to the top of the mountain.

According to Tran Minh Son, vice president of the Sun Group corporation, investor of the project, the total weight of the cable cars can be as high as 400 tonnes. But several experts are afraid that it would be difficult to ensure the safety of a car when the peak of Mount Fansipan is swept with violent winds.

Even before the construction of the cable system, opinions were very divided on the cable car.

The Fansipan-Sapa cable car will form part of a major new tourism complex also set to include luxury hotels, entertainment facilities, restaurants and a golf course. The total project is expected to cost around VND4.4 trillion (US$208 million).

Contacted by a Viet Nam News reporter, Nguyen Ngoc Sinh, chairman of the Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, declined to express an opinion on how the project would impact on the nature and sight of the beauty spot.

He said that it would need a council of scientists to assess the project's influence on the environment.

"When a construction project is carried out, the investor must make a research to evaluate the impact of the construction on the environment and find optimal solutions to make sure it does not have a bad influence on the environment and landscape," he said.

Ta My Duong, a well-travelled architect told Viet Nam News, that building a cable car takes away the true meaning of mountain climbing to Fansipan. "Anyone who cannot climb the peak can stay well sound and safe at home," he wrote in an e-mail. — VNS

GLOSSARY

However, the public has begun to doubt of the security of the cable system after Lao Dong newspaper reported that the project was begun in November 2013 before the Sun Group corporation, the project's investor, received the necessary licence papers from the Lao Cai Construction department.

If you doubt something, you are not sure whether to believe it.

An investor is someone who pays money into a project in the hope that the project will produce more money.

On December 16, 2014, the provincial Construction Department issued an official document saying that the investors should not ask for licence papers because the project was ratified by the local People's Committee.

When the agreement about the project is ratified, people involved in it sign a document to say they agree to it, which makes the agreement one that everybody involved must obey.

Based on this document, the local People's Committee issued an official document affirming that the works in this project were exempt from licence papers.

To affirm something means to say it in public.

If the project is exempt from licence papers it does not have to have these papers.

It's difficult to know if the Construction department is right or not, but it seems clear that investors carried out construction before it got an official opinion from the Construction Department and the Lao Cai People's Committee on whether it was entitled to exemption.

If the project is entitled to exemption, it qualifies to be exempt.

In an official document issued on October 29, 2014, the local Construction Department affirmed that it had not ratified the project to build the 7.75ha station leading to the peak of the Mount Fansipan and the cable buttress tower.

A cable buttress tower is a structure for the cable car that is built against a special wall.

Many people wonder why, when the provincial Construction department recognised this mistake of the investors, it didn't think of imposing any fines.

To impose fines on the investors would be to fine them.

Considering the grandiose scale of the project, the licence and safety problems worried many people.

A project that is on a grandiose scale is more fancy than necessary.

The 6.5km long cable car can carry a maximum of 2,000 passengers an hour, with each cabin accommodating 34 passengers.

If the car can carry a maximum of 2,000 passengers an hour -- that is the biggest number of people it can take in that time.

Once operational, the cable car will transport passengers from the base of the 3,143-metre Fansipan mountain to its highest point in 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the cable car is operational means once it is working.

Currently, it takes one to two days to trek to the top of the mountain.

A trek means a hike.

Even before the construction of the cable system, opinions were very divided on the cable car.

If opinions were very divided it means that different people had different feelings about the cable car.

Contacted by a Viet Nam News reporter, Nguyen Ngoc Sinh, chairman of the Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, declined to express an opinion on how the project would impact on the nature and sight of the beauty spot.

To decline to express an opinion means to choose not to do so.

How the project would impact on the nature and sight of the beauty spot means how it would affect those things.

"When a construction project is carried out, the investor must make a research to evaluate the impact of the construction on the environment and find optimal solutions to make sure it does not have a bad influence on the environment and landscape," he said.

To evaluate the impact of the construction means to work out what it would be.

Optimal solutions means the best answers.

If the construction has a bad influence over the environment and landscape it will ruin them.

Ta My Duong, a well-travelled architect told Viet Nam News, that building a cable car takes away the true meaning of mountain climbing to Fansipan.

An architect is someone who designs houses.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

1.      Ta My Duong believes the true way of climbing Mount Fansipan will be to travel to the top on a cable car.

2.      Work started on the cable car project in the eleventh month of 2013.

3.      The cable for the cable car is 5.6km long.

4.      There can be violent winds at the top of Mount Fansipan.

5.      It takes two days to hike to the top of Mount Fasipan.

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2015




































1. False; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. True.

 

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