debates first law on railways
HA NOI — After 124 years
of operation, the first law to govern the Vietnamese railway system was debated
yesterday by the National Assembly.
Provisions of the Railway
Law debated by delegates pertained to future development, financing
infrastructure improvements, management and safety.
The nation’s railroads
are in dire need of investment for improvement, said Le Van Cuong, a delegate
from the central province of Thanh Hoa.
The annual investment of
more than VND400 billion (US$25.47 million) from the State budget is just enough
to pay for nearly 40,000 workers and maintain 2,000km of the national system’s
3,000km, Cuong said.
Not a single new kilometre
of railway has been built in the past decade.
He said participation by a
diverse group of investors will be necessary to the system’s improvement.
Cuong said other countries
have found that private investors are hesitant to fund railway projects because
they are expensive and take a long time to turn a profit. This leaves national
governments with the burden of improving the costly systems.
"The State should
enact incentive policies to attract both Vietnamese and foreign investors,
ensure fair competition amongst bidders and protect the rights of investors in
the sector," said Dinh Thi Ninh from the northern mountainous province of
"The State should
also encourage technological research and personnel training programmes to
improve the sector," said the delegate from the southern province of Ca
Mau, Tran Thanh Khiem.
transport development, means investment in economic development," said Mai
Quoc Binh from HCM City.
Most delegates agreed
investment should be divided between infrastructure improvement and transport
Tran Cong Kich from the
northern province of Ninh Binh, however, argued that one organisation should
oversee infrastructure and transport services but an independent agency should
track the system’s finances.
The quick handling of the
E1 train derailment in the central province of Thua Thien- Hue last March proved
the importance of a single agency to run the railway, Kich said.
Echoing Kich’s idea for
an independent accountant, delegate Dinh Thi Ninh from Son La said the sector’s
accounts must be kept transparent.
Vu Ngoc Cu from the
northern province of Lao Cai also supported transparent accounting but
maintained that the Railway Corporation should be the only organiser of the
Nguyen Tan Tuan from Khanh
Hoa Province said the responsibilities of the Railway Security Forces remain
unclear. He argued that the draft only stipulates the duties of local police and
the local people’s committees where accidents occur. Security aboard the
trains still needs to be more clearly stipulated, he said.
Nguyen Thi Hong Khanh from
the southern province of Dong Nai said new railroads should not cut through
residential areas, or along precarious rock formations where rescues would be
A plan of action for
accidents must be made clearer in article ten of the draft, said Hoang Van Loi
from Bac Giang Province.
The draft Railway Law
which has nine chapters and 120 articles is expected to be approved by the
National Assembly on May 19. — VNS