Court overrules Hanoi’s decision to drop charges in water pipeline scandal

By Xuan Hoa   August 1, 2016 | 08:15 pm PT
Company execs who thought they were off the hook will now be forced to stand trial.

The Da River water pipeline project was expected to bring water to about 200,000 households across Hanoi. The project was launched in 2004 and divided into two phases. The first phase of the project went into operation seven years ago.

Since the first phase was completed in 2009, the water pipes have broken 18 times, with an estimated loss of more than 1.5 million cubic meters of waters.

Due to these problems, around 177,000 residential households living in six of the city's inner districts have suffered a total of 343 hours without clean water.

The numerous ruptures along the pipeline have not only disrupted water supplies to hundreds of thousands of residents, but also cost suppliers more than VND13.4 billion ($600,000) in expenses to maintain water supplies to the city and in repair costs.

An investigation concluded that the reason behind the problem was the substandard quality of fiber composite that Vinaconex, the project’s developer, used for the pipeline.


A pipe from the first phase of the Da River water project has burst 18 times. Photo by Ba Do. 

Based on an initial investigation, Hanoi officially brought charges against nine Vinaconex executives for violating construction regulations.

As the investigation continued, investigators said five more Vinaconex executives, including Phi Thai Binh, former vice chairman of Hanoi’s People’s Committee, had also violated regulations on construction investment and management.

More specifically, Phi Thai Binh, Vinaconex chairman, Nguyen Van Tuan, chief executive officer, and board members To Ngoc Thanh, Hoang Hop Thuong and Vu Dinh Cham were allegedly responsible for selecting substandard pipes and an incompetent subcontractor for the construction of the Da River project.

Despite the conclusion of the investigation, police decided to dismiss criminal charges against the five, saying they were first time offenders with good personal records, and that they had not intended to violate regulations for their own benefit. The police also said the executives had cooperated with the investigation.

However, the People's Supreme Procuracy has overturned that decision and said that all those responsible should be held accountable.

Vinaconex invested VND1.5 trillion ($67 million) in the Da River water project. Its affiliate company, the Vinaconex Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester Pipe Company, supplied the pipes for the project.

The second phase of the project, costing VND5 trillion ($224 million), is expected to double the total water supply to 600,000 cubic meters per day.

Related news:

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