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Unpaid school stops training HCMC metro line drivers

By Gia Minh   January 7, 2021 | 04:54 pm PT
Unpaid school stops training HCMC metro line drivers
Trainees attend a class to train drivers for the first metro line of HCMC, July 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.
A school training 58 drivers for HCMC’s metro line No.1 has put the course on hold, citing the project’s investor failure to pay it.

The training course, being held at Hanoi's Vietnam Railway College in collaboration with the metro line’s consulting unit, NJPT, a consortium led by Japan’s Nippon Koei, started last July with 58 candidates aged 21-35, one of them a woman.

The 15-month course was developed following a memorandum of understanding signed among three parties, the project investor HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR), the consultant NJPT and the college.

It appears that the payment for teachers and the school can only be made after an appendix to the contract has been signed between the investor and the consultant for the consulting service package. This has not yet been signed.

The school and the consultant say they are unable to pay the teachers or continue to cover other costs of the training course. The training course was put on hold last December.

But the investor, MAUR, has said that it cannot make the call itself. It needs authorization from higher authorities to sign the appendix.

For now, it has asked the city’s administration to quickly direct related agencies to expedite procedures so that the appendix can be signed as soon as possible.

The investor has complained that such tardiness not only interrupts the training course but also operations of the entire metro line, which are slated to begin later this year. The line runs 19.7 km (12.24 miles) from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Suoi Tien theme park in District 9.

In 2007, MAUR had signed a contract with NJPT for the Japanese consortium to undertake general consultancy for the metro line No.1 with a total implementation time of 132 months.

The consulting process was divided into five phases: basic design and building bidding files, organizing bidding, post-contract period (including work on design review, construction supervision), maintenance, and maintenance consulting phase.

That contract was signed based on the original schedule of the project being completed in 2015.

Several setbacks and resultant delays forced the project’s postponement to the end of this year. The delays have forced the investor and the consultant to add as many as 19 appendixes to their contract.

The payment for the training course belongs to appendix no. 19, for which the two sides have already completed negotiations. The investor, MAUR, is waiting for the city’s assessment so that it can be signed.

The construction of metro line No.1 is expected to cost VND43.7 trillion ($1.89 billion). It will have 14 stations – 11 on elevated sections and three underground.

Work on the project, which began in August 2012, was more than 78 percent complete by the end of 2020.

In all, HCMC plans to build eight metro lines running a total of 220 km.

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