City legislators haul department chiefs over the coals

Lawmakers grilled senior Ho Chi Minh City officials over issues like failure to tweak the economic growth target, sanitation and food hygiene, and pollution at a People’s Council session on July 8.

Deputy Dang Van Khoa shows pictures featuring the dalays in road works at the People's Council session on July 8, 2009. (Photo: SGGP)

The officials, also members of the People’s Committee, acknowledged their failure in some regards but did not come up with measures to resolve the issues raised.
The director of the Traffic and Transportation Department, Tran Quang Phuong, faced a barrage of questions about infrastructure works blocking roads and constantly causing traffic snarls.

Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Xuan said many of the road works have gone on for a long time but the department has not convincingly explained why to voters.

Dang Van Khoa said the delays in the construction that the People’s Committee was long aware of have caused cost overruns but it failed to address them.

“Successive city deputy chairpersons in charge of urban development promised to deal with the problem but many of the projects have remained stuck,” he said.

Mr. Khoa slammed the practice of cementing sidewalks, which prevents rainwater from seeping into the ground, leading to flooding and a dwindling water table.

Deputy Vo Van Sen urged the department to dig up all sidewalks and relay them.

“The department must correct its mistakes,” he added.

The issue of sanitation and food hygiene was discussed with the director of the Department of Heath.

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh said the frequent occurrence of food poisoning at industrial zones is the People’s Committee’s responsibility but it has failed to address the problem.

She wanted to know when it would complete the issue of sanitation and food-hygiene licenses to caterers at markets and industrial zones.

The director of the Department of Health, Nguyen Van Chau, said his agency has only 30 experts on sanitary and food hygiene to cover the entire city.

The Department needs 800 inspectors and so can only do its job thoroughly from 2012 when it gets more personnel, he said.

Asked about the rampant sales of “low-quality” medicine in the city, Mr Chau said his agency tries its best to control drug quality but needs more time to do a successful job.

The director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Dao Anh Kiet, said his Department cannot deal with the problem of pollution by itself because many aspects fall under the purview of higher authorities.

Deputies were worked up over the Da Phuoc waste treatment facility, saying its technology is not the most modern since it has failed to treat all the garbage despite the exorbitant cost involved.
“Is there any bribery or waste involved in the project?” Nguyen Minh Quang asked.

Mr.Kiet replied that he would publicize the amounts of money and processes involved in the project.

The chairwoman of the People’s Council, Pham Phuong Thao, said environment pollution has not been adequately tackled, adding that the Department should cooperate with the environment police to report on treatment of liquid waste at industrial zones and the Da Phuoc plant.

Deputy Nguyen Dang Nghia told Sai Gon Giai Phong he was disappointed with the replies given by the directors of the three departments.

“The director of the Department of Traffic and Transportation was very vague while the director of Department of Natural Resources and Environment avoided sensitive questions and the Director of Health seemed embarrassed.

“I was pleased only with the answers given by the vice chairman of the People’s Committee, Nguyen Thanh Tai, because he offered specific and feasible solutions for many issues.”

Mr Nghia was also unhappy about the limited time members had to ask questions.

By Staff Wrters - Translated by Dong Nghi

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