|Construction of a part of the metro line in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
Compiled by Le Hung Vong
Time-consuming and elaborate procedures are the main causes for the delays in building metro lines in HCM City, a meeting on urban railway projects heard at the city People's Committee office early this month.
Nguyen Huu Tin, a deputy chairman of the People's Committee, said complicated procedures for design changes and legal differences between Viet Nam and foreign countries – who are providing official development assistance (ODA) — on tendering for the various components of the projects have held things up.
He listed some of the procedural problems.
According to the official it takes too much time to approve any upward revision in costs.
The city has to wait too long for guidance from relevant ministries and follow varying rules applied by Viet Nam and ODA providers.
The different understanding of compensation for land by foreign donors and local agencies has led to contractors raising disputes, hindering progress.
It often takes three to six months to arbitrate the differences in tender rules as perceived by Viet Nam and foreign donors as well as to settle site clearance and compensation issues for metro projects.
"These hurdles are faced not only in urban railway projects but also in all other ODA-funded projects," Sai Gon Economic Times newspaper quoted him as saying on a different occasion.
"We expect relevant ministries and agencies to report the problems to the Government and help find solutions."
To save time, city authorities need to make careful preparations for such projects before submitting them for approval, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said.
He exhorted them to learn from the experience they gained from earlier projects to speed up subsequent ones, suggesting that the know-how they gained from building metro line No1 and No2 should be used for building line No5.
Speaking about land, Dong said the city should reconsider cutting down trees at Tao Dan Park to make way for a station on line No2. Trees should only be cut if necessary, he added.
In July the Government had authorised the city People's Committee to approve the basic and technical designs for line No1 linking Ben Thanh Market in District 1 with Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9.
It was aimed at speeding up work on line No1, which has been delayed by years.
The Government has instructed relevant ministries and agencies to consider waiving visas for tourists from almost all countries after earlier doing so for some European nations.
According to Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), the Government has authorised the Ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Public Security, and Foreign Affairs and other agencies to relax visa requirements for foreign nationals coming on tours organised by leading Vietnamese travel companies.
If all goes well, it will be expanded to other tour operators in future.
Many travel firms are excited about the news since the visa requirement has been one of the biggest hurdles to the development of the tourism industry.
"Almost all foreign visitors can come without visas to Viet Nam; this is really good news," Nguyen Thi Khanh, deputy chairwoman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said.
"It will give the country a competitive edge in attracting tourists in years to come."
On July 1 this year Viet Nam waived visas for tourists from Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the UK.
Earlier it had unilaterally waived visas for tourists from Japan, South Korea, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Russia, while visas have for long been mutually waived among the 10 ASEAN member countries.
The Government has also reduced visa fees and waived visas for overseas Vietnamese.
Moreover, all international visitors to Phu Quoc Island are exempt from visas for a stay of up to 30 days.
According to the National Administration for Tourism, international arrival numbers have showed signs of recovery after months of decline, and are expected to rise towards year end.
As of November 3 the country had welcomed 6.33 million visitors, down 4.1 per cent from the same period last year.
Hat company rehires workers
Bien Hoa city-based hat manufacturer Yupoong Co has said it will reemploy a third of the nearly 1,900 workers who were laid off after its factories were damaged in a fire in September.
The decision was announced last Wednesday after a meeting with representatives of the Dong Nai Province Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Labour Union, and the province industrial parks management.
At an earlier meeting with Labour Union representatives, many of the laid-off workers said they did not require support from Yupoong, but the company must employ them again when it resumes operation.
Pham Van Cuong, deputy head of the IP management, said temporary employment opportunities had been sought for redundant workers while they waited for Yupoong to start operating again.
Cuong said five companies had agreed to hire hundreds of the workers.
A spokesman for Yupoong said when manufacturing facilities are repaired and restarted, priority would be given to hiring older workers who have difficulty finding jobs elsewhere.
The decision to take back laid-off workers was made by Yupoong after thousands of workers gathered in front of its factory on November 9 to protest against its decision to unilaterally terminate its contracts with nearly 1,900 workers due to the recent fire.
On November 7 the company issued a notice saying the fire had destroyed one factory and affected work in another.
The company decided to terminate the contracts of almost all workers as a result, it said.
The head of the company's trade union, Nguyen Thi Ut, was quoted by Dan Tri (People's Knowledge) newspaper as saying only 400 workers in the embroidery department and warehouse had been retained.
The notice also said salaries, allowances and redundancy payments would be paid in full to the laid-off workers.
The IP management had said the company could encourage workers to quit on their own volition.
Under the provisions of the Labour Code, the company could terminate workers as a result of the fire, the IP management had said, adding that the company did seek ways to deal with the consequences but in vain and had to downsize operations and lay off employees. — VNS