Staff quitting Hanoi metro line are low-skilled workers, company claims

By Doan Loan    November 18, 2019 | 05:25 am PT
Staff quitting Hanoi metro line are low-skilled workers, company claims
Staff members of the Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line in a train as the project started commercial test run for inspection purposes on October 29, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The state-owned Hanoi Metro Company says not a single highly-skilled technical staff has quit the capital city’s first metro line project.

The company made this statement following reports that hundreds of nearly 1,000 trained employees had left Hanoi’s repeatedly delayed Cat Linh – Ha Dong metro line.

One senior company official who wished to remain anonymous told VnExpress that 28 percent out of nearly 1,000 trained employees had left the project sporadically between 2016 and March this year.

The majority of them were hired to work in customer guidance, ticket sales and other relatively low-skilled jobs, the official said. "Personnel in positions that require high skills and specialization, including train drivers, are still employed by the project."

He conceded that repeated delays that kept the workers waiting for long could be one reason for the spate of resignations. Besides, they might have found better jobs with higher pay.

The company has recruited additional people to fill its vacancies so as to have enough staff for test runs and eventual commercial operations.

On Friday, Hanoi Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said the fact of staff leaving in droves has made it difficult for the city to proceed with the project.

Since July 2015, company has recruited 651 people and trained them to operate the city’s first metro line. Of these, 40 were trained in China to drive the train and handle highly technical matters. The remaining staff were trained domestically for positions including selling tickets, station guidance, repairs, electricity, railway maintenance, and supplying construction materials.

In March 2019, Hanoi Metro signed contracts with over 650 people. During the test operation of the line, the staff was paid in accordance with the region-specific salary base, which is about VND4.l5 million ($195) a month with insurance.

According to the metro line’s contractor, the China Railway 6 Company, it has trained 40 personnel from Vietnam in China and also appointed its own Chinese specialized staff to train local employees in Vietnam.

The company also trained 78 new additional staff which together exceeded the number of staff the company had previously agreed to provide training under a contract. The additional staff were employed by Hanoi Metro.

It is estimated that 681 employees are needed to operate the line, 50 of them in managerial positions. The estimate does not include security and sanitation staff.

The Cat Linh-Ha Dong route, Hanoi's first metro line, runs 13 kilometers from Cat Linh Station in downtown Dong Da District to Yen Nghia Station in the southwestern Ha Dong District.

Work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway started in 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013, but several hurdles, including loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017, stalled it for years.

The original project estimate of $552.86 million has also ballooned to more than $868 million, including $670 million in loans from China.

The line began a 20-day commercial test run for inspection purposes on October 29, 2019.

Hanoi plans to build eight urban railway lines with a combined distance of 305 km, including three monorail segments, as per its development plan for 2030 with a vision towards 2050.

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