The entire expressway fully opened to traffic just last month, but the section that had opened in August 2017 is now undergoing repairs.
Officials have blamed the investor for poor quality construction, but the latter has tried to pass the buck on to inclement weather.
Construction of the first ever expressway in the central region, connecting Da Nang City and Quang Ngai Province, began in 2013. A part of it was opened to traffic last year and the new road fully opened to traffic just last month.
However, early this month, cracks and potholes were seen in the aftermath of a heavy downpour in the area. They were hundreds of square centimeters wide and 5-10 centimeters deep.
On the Transport Ministry’s orders, Vietnamese construction firm Tuan Loc, began repairing the road on Sunday.
The ministry has blamed both the project’s main investor, Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) and the contractor for the damage.
“The VEC and relevant parties’ incapability to maintain traffic safety could risk the safety of their employees and vehicles using the expressway, which may result in public outrage,” the ministry said in a statement.
It also demanded that VEC supervises other investors in identifying the damaged sections and fixing them, and said the corporation cannot toll fees on the expressway until it is fully prepared.
Nguyen Tien Thanh, director of the expressway management board, claimed that the damage was caused by heavy rain and the fact that heavy trucks were using it, and not because of poor construction work.
However, VEC director Tran Van Tam said Monday that the rain was only a contributing factor to the damage. He said repair work would be completed before Wednesday noon.
Meanwhile, several officials have questioned both Thanh and Tam’s claims.
Tran Chung, former head of the State Agency for Construction Quality Inspection under the Ministry of Construction, said that the expressway’s investors should have taken weather conditions into account when building the expressway.
“The expressway was damaged because its construction itself had problems,” he said.
Tran Dan, an engineer and vice president of Da Nang’s Bridge and Road Association, said the VEC was simply finding a way to deny their responsibility for the expressway damage. He backed Chung’s statement that the damage was the result of improper construction.
Nguyen Ngoc Long, Vice President of Vietnam’s Bridge and Road Association, also said the damage was “90 percent” the result of improper construction.
He also said that the repair work should be overseen by the State Agency for Construction Quality Inspection, not the VEC.
The expressway has cost over VND34.5 trillion ($1.4 billion) to build. Its damaged part opened to traffic in August 2017 and the remaining part, 74 km long, opened last month.
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