Light-Makers Of North-Western Region

North-western region

Half a month after the breaking ground ceremony, the Son La hydroelectric work is not as crowded as before. “There are only about 5,000 engineers and workers left, which is 1,000 less than before”. Mr.Vu Duc Thin – Vice Director-General of the Vietnam Power Company and Chief of Management Board of the Son La Hydroelectric Plant said.

 Mr Vu Duc Thinh explained that this Vietnamese-built century work helped save thousands of billion VND.


The Son La Hydroelectric Plant is considered one of the biggest plants in Southeast Asia with the total capital of VND42.4 thousand billion and the capacity of 2,400 MW.
It not only supplies electricity to the whole country but also aims at two important targets: increasing flood frequency from 125 years as present to 500 years and supplying water to 20 million people and hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice-fields in the Red River Delta.


The project also helps reduce poverty and improve living conditions of the people in three provinces Son La, Lai Chau and Dien Bien. It will increase 2.8 times the average income of north-western people in 2010 and 6.6 times in 2020 compared with the year 2000.
Son La, a poor province, will develop into an electricity province, Dien Bien will escape poverty and Lai Chau will have more people with satisfactory incomes.


According to Mr.Vo An – Director of the Son La Department of Planning and Investment, the state invests VND450 billion, other ministries and branches invest VND1,000 billion in this century project every year.


As for Mr. Ca Van Chiu – Director of the Son La Department of Industry, it is an opportunity for Son La and other north-western provinces to re-distribute habitants and adjust industrial structures. Great importance will be attached to processing industries such as tea-tree, coffee, fruit-tree and wood. Son La will also develop traditional villages of brocade, rattan, bamboo, etc. in the resettlements.
“We believe that Son La will turn from a very poor into a rather-well developed province in the region”, Chiu said. And this can be realized since the hydroelectric reservoir, whose water rises up to hundreds of meters to raise artesian waters level, gives this north-western region a high level of humidity, which is very convenient for the focused and specialized cultivation.


The reservoir also helps Son La develop aquaculture and change the climate of the nearby region. Particularly, it will save the preventive forests, whose total area is occupied with 64-65% of wasteland.


The transport industry benefits the most from this project. In the past, Son La had the lowest rate of kilometers of road per natural area nationwide. The province has so far expanded its national road No.6, No.37 as well as the roads to the resettlements. It takes only six hours, instead of one day as before, to travel from Ha Noi to Son La. Transport also contributes to the economic development of the north-western region and ensures political stability.


Son La has held two campaigns for investment in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City with a portfolio of 60 projects including the Reverter-furnace Cement Plant ($200 million), high-quality cow breeding project ($120 million), imported dairy cow breeding project ($100 million).
Being lack of capital, Son La applied the policy of “trading land for infrastructure”. Mr. Vu Kim Chung, President of the Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No.1 (Cienco 1) said that the company decided to invest in the Son La Cement Plant, Chieng Ngan – Muong Bang – Hat Lot route and the Cienco 11-floor three-star hotel in the downtown center.

Son La hydroelectric work


As for the workers who are building the plant, the support for this project is even stronger. Pointing his finger at the industrious workers, Mr. Vu Duc Thin said that the top priority in the year 2006 was to fight against the Da River flood.


However, it is not because of this difficult task that they use great human resources. The skills of the workers and engineers from thirteen contractors contribute to the success of such a great quantity of work which requires very high-quality techniques.
It should be reminded that there were more than 1,000 foreign experts and 30,000 Vietnamese workers and engineers permanently present at the Hoa Binh hydroelectric work. However, there are only 20 foreign experts for the Son La work. “We need only more than 10,000 Vietnamese workers even at the height of 2007” said Thin.


The designing process, which is of great importance and seen as “the work of foreigners”, is implemented by the Vietnamese experts from the energy industry.
They come from the Power Engineering and Consulting Company No.1 (PECC1). Engineer Dao The Hung said: “More than 300 officers of our company had to study and work very hard in the past eighteen years to undertake the present heavy responsibility”. PECC1 has completed the first period of technical designing and they are allowed to skip two years. They are also highly appreciated by a Japanese consulting team.


Son La is now a symbol of the Vietnamese creativeness. For instance, the engineers have succeeded in inventing a device with a lower price compared with imported ones. They also shorten the construction time to two years.


Thin stresses that the Vietnamese workers and engineers will really be the light-makers of the north-western region.

Nam Quoc - Compiled by Thuy Hang

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