Transport ministry ordered inspection into pothole-riddled central expressway as repairs finished

October, 17/2018 - 19:00

All defects along the central expressway have been repaired, main investor said, as construction quality of the infrastructure project came under fire

Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi expressway. — VNA/VNS File Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — After three days, the repairs of defects on a key highway in the central region have been finished and are awaiting final assessment, according to the project’s investor.

State-run Việt Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC), the main investor of the Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi expressway, said that despite the total area of defective road coming to less than 70sq.m of the whole expressway’s three million sq.m in surface area, 3,000sq.m of road surface had been replaced.

The corporation also said transport ministry leaders were present at the site to check the repair results.

Previously on Tuesday, transport minister Nguyễn Văn Thể ordered a 45-day inspection into the implementation and the management of the first expressway in the region due to public concern over its poor construction quality.

The 139km highway in the central region crossing through Quảng Ngãi and Quảng Nam provinces and Đà Nẵng City was built in four years with total investment of VNĐ34.5 trillion (US$1.5 billion), sourced from official development aid from the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank (WB).

The project is an important part of the north-south expressway, alleviating traffic on the National Road No 1 and is expected to boost economic competitiveness for the central region.

Potholes and other defects were detected on the 65km Tam Kỳ-Quảng Ngãi section that was built with JICA funds and went into operation in August 2017.

VEC’s efforts to address the defects were condemned as sloppy patchworks, as the issue had persisted for months before the transport minister ordered corrective measures on October 11.

Afterwards, despite VEC’s claims the issues were fixed, it was reported the newly poured asphalt-concrete mixture in the potholes could be scraped off by hand, again stoking public anger.

The corporation has since pledged to carry out more long-term repairs, which would involve removing the top road surface layer to redo the whole structure.

The contractor of the section, South Korean-based Posco Engineering & Construction Co Ltd, has sub-contracted 100 per cent of its workload to nearly 20 Vietnamese construction firms without the approval from the VEC, prompting calls to investigate the responsibilities of every party involved in this process.

Takao Inami, JICA’s Consulting Director of the Project on Strengthening Traffic Safety on National Highways, and head of the supervision team overseeing the repair works, told the media the defective rate is not high and the issues are very localised and not prevalent on the whole highway.

“In my observation, the defects only take place in the top layers of the road surface, about 3-5cm deep, while the roadbed is perfectly fine,” he said.

The Japanese expert said the asphalt-concrete mixture used in repairs is up to par.


Also on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng presided over an urgent meeting on measures to address the defects found on the highway, gathering top officials from the transport, construction, finance and investment ministries, in addition to VEC directors.

After hearing reports from the transport ministry, Deputy PM Dũng criticised the expressway’s investors and contractors for their negligence, tardy handling of the issues and blame-shifting.

Deputy PM Dũng also asked a report on the “responsible individuals and organisations” be submitted to the Government for appropriate penalties.

Previously, on October 11, transport minister Thể told the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam to stop collecting toll fees on the Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi until the repairs were done. — VNS

Potholes developed on the Tam Kỳ-Quảng Ngãi section of the $1.47 billion Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi expressway in central Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS File Photo