Critical shortage of vehicle inspectors threaten disruptions

February 28, 2023 - 09:30
Even inspectors that were subjected to legal proceedings but have not yet been detained are still going to work
Police sealed computers at a vehicle registration centre in Hà Nội last week as part of the investigation into the bribery and falsification accusations at the Việt Nam Register. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The vehicle roadworthiness evaluation system of Việt Nam is facing severe disruptions as the police investigation is expanding into what appears to be widespread corruption in the workforce.

There is a “critical shortage” of vehicle inspectors currently, according to Nguyễn Tô An, deputy head of the Việt Nam Register, the Government agency (under the Ministry of Transport) that is responsible for the management of the works.

Even inspectors that were subjected to legal proceedings but have not yet been detained are still going to work, An said.

From late October last year, the police in HCM City begun investigating several cases of suspicious changes of vehicles’ roadworthiness records in the system, and finding thousands of similar cases of bribery and falsification happening in other southern localities as crackdown on registration centres intensified.

The corruption cases were deemed by the police to be ‘systemic,’ involving a long chain of command from the leadership of the Việt Nam Register down to the registration centres across the country.

Đặng Việt Hà, former head of the Việt Nam Register, along with his predecessor Trần Kỳ Hình, were arrested this year, both accused of receiving bribes.

As of the end of last week, about 1,500 inspectors are active, but to sufficiently deal with the workload, there needs to be at least 1,986 inspectors.

There are currently 121 out of 489 inspection systems suspended as the inspection centres are either under investigation, fail to meet operational standards, or shut down on their own accord.

The capital city of Hà Nội only has 16 centres with 31 systems still online, and more are expected to close down the following weeks due to staff shortage.

An said obviously the summoned inspectors are still enjoying full citizenship rights until the court indicted them, but they are working under duress with a lot of anxiety.

The mood of apprehension has also spread far and wide in the entire inspection workforce, with many abruptly quitting and several others submitting resignation letters.

The Việt Nam Register cannot just mass hire new inspectors due to recruitment regulations, plus, the training of new inspectors take time – more than a year for ordinary-level inspectors, and up to four years for high-level inspectors.

For these reasons, currently, each system can only process 40 vehicles a day, 66 per cent of the designed capacity.

Hà Nội currently handles about 1,240 vehicles a day, while HCM City processes about 1,040 vehicles a day.

Without any notable change, a lot of vehicles in these two major cities would be "backed up" in the waiting room in the following months.

For March, the processing capacity of roadworthiness evaluation centres in Hà Nội and HCM City would only meet 52-53 per cent of the people’s demands, the authorities remarked, adding that the figures would fall down to 31 per cent in April, leading to potential severe disruptions.

The situation is also getting worse in other provinces and cities, as the shortages in one locality would force people to run evaluations in the neighbouring localities while the investigation widens and more inspectors are facing arrests.

Police have pledged the utmost determination in handling all the offenders without leniency.

However, those offenders who submitted themselves and put forward sincere admissions could be released on bail to continue working, Tô An said, quoting the police representatives in a recent meeting.

Also in the case of continued overloading, traffic police officers might not issue fines towards vehicles that have not yet managed to get their vehicles assessed and registered. — VNS