The rate of urbanisation in Vietnam reached 33.4 percent in 2013, up one percent from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Construction.
Last year, the number of people living in urban areas increased by 1.3 million, however, the distribution was not balanced with high concentrations in major metropolitan areas.
Sixteen large urban centres in Vietnam account for about 50 percent of urbanites, putting pressure on housing, employment, the environment and social infrastructure.
According to the ministry, Vietnam’s total housing area was 79 million square metres in 2013, of which 36.5 million square metres were in urban areas.
The country now has 770 urban centres.
New cold spell to hit Northern, Central provinces
More new cold spell will enter the northern and central provinces of Viet Nam in the afternoon of January 8, announced by the National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Center.
According to weather forecast, the cold spell will cause a damaging cold in the some places of the northern and central provinces from January 9.
Due to its effect as well as west wind, northern, north central and central provinces will see drizzle in the next days.
Burglar kills two, commits suicide
A burglar took his own life after killing two retired teachers on Monday.
Nguyen Xuan Do, 72, and Ta Thi Nam, 69, living on Truong Dinh Street of Hoang Mai District, discovered a burglar in their house and called for help.
The thief, Nguyen Quoc Anh, 31, from the central province of Thanh Hoa’s Ngoc Trao Ward, slit their throats. He then ran to the fourth floor of the house and killed himself.
Preliminary investigation showed the murder was unplanned. The case is ongoing.
Needy children get special Tet gift
Nearly 1,100 needy children at shelters in HCM City will take part in games at KizCiti Entertainment Place in District 4 from January 13 to 19.
It will be sponsored by Hoa Sen Group in co-operation with Cong An (the Police) newspaper and HCM City Television under a programme called Mai Am Gia Dinh Viet-Xuan
Giap Ngo (Viet Nam Family Home-The Year of the Horse).
On January 12, children from shelters and juvenile offenders at rehabilitation centres will attend a music contest at KizCiti. Winners will perform in a programme on Lunar NewYear’s Eve (January 30).
Free surgeries for kids with deformities
Voluntary surgeons from the US-based non-governmental organisation ReSurge International are providing free reconstructive surgeries for poor children with deformities.
The operations will take place from January 6-16 at the Ninh Thuan General Hospital in the central province of the same name.
More than 200 poor children suffering from harelips, cleft palates and other deformities have registered for free check-ups provided by the visiting doctors.
ReSurge International has provided thousands of surgeries for poor Vietnamese children.
Blood donation drive targets 5,000 units
A blood donation festival called Red Sunday is scheduled to take place in ten northern provinces and cities, including the Trade University in Ha Noi, on next Sunday.
The event, organised by the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper and the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, aims to collect between 3,000-5,000 blood
units in order to cope with increased demand at emergency rooms and hospitals during Tet holidays.
13 sailors saved after boat sinks in Tra Vinh
Thirteen sailors were rescued in the sea off of Lang Nuoc – Tra Vinh yesterday after their boat sank in rough seas while pulling a barge.
According to officials from the border police force of Tra Vinh Province, the accident happened some 10 nautical miles offshore. The rope that was pulling the barge became entwined in the propeller of the boat, according to officials.
Four nearby fishing boats assisted in the rescue and, after two hours, all 13 sailors were safely brought to shore, along with the barge and boat.
Railways advised to get back on track
Viet Nam’s railway sector needs drastic restructuring in order to compete with other means of transport, said Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang.
For years, Vietnamese people have associated trains with overcrowding, delays and long queues to buy tickets, especially on holidays, the minister said.
Speaking at a recent meeting with the State-owned Viet Nam Railway Corporation, a major railway operator in the country, Thang said that these problems remained pervasive.
Additionally, traveling by rail remains expensive, despite the system’s many flaws. A ticket for the 30-hour rail journey from Ha Noi to HCM City cost VND1.9 million
(US$90), while traveling by plane took only 3-4 hours and cost about VND1.2 million ($57).
“When new expressways from Ha Noi to Lao Cai, Thai Nguyen and Hai Phong open, the railway will face even tougher competition,” he said.
Deputy General Director of the Viet Nam Railway Corporation Tran Phuc Tien admitted that the sector faced many challenges including an outdated ticket buying system, poor on-train services, insufficient infrastructure and higher fares than other means of transport.
Chairman of the corporation Tran Ngoc Thanh said that this year, the corporation would focus on implementing technology and selecting key projects on which to allocate its limited resources.
Thanh added that the corporation would apply automatic ticket selling technology by August.
Early last month, the corporation agreed to borrow Tien Phong Joint Stocks Commercial Bank VND2 trillion ($95 million) to improve railway facilities.
The bank will also help the corporation develop an online ticket selling system that allows passengers to pay for train tickets with bank cards, Thanh said.
Viet Nam has about 2,600 kilometres of railway, which connects with rail in China and has potential to connect with Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Laos.
Dearth of funds hits mental patients hard
The province has more than 13,100 people diagnosed with some form of mental illness, with as many as 4,800 people receiving medication through a mental health project under the National Target Programme approved by the Prime Minister in 1999.
The remaining 8,300 patients are supposed to receive prescription medication funded by the province’s budget, however funding shortages have impeded access to medicines for the last four months.
In a bid to distribute medication to the 8,300 patients, the provincial People’s Committee last year disbursed VND648 million (US$30,800) for the Nghe An Mental Hospital to purchase and distribute medicine to patients in various communes.
Among the medication purchased by the allocation included benzodiazepine and other drugs used to treat mental illnesses such as depression. However, the fund ran dry by the end of August last year.
Treatments funded by the State budget was issued through the hospital only, with patients unable to purchase medication at pharmacies in their localities.
Director of the Tuong Duong District Preventive Medicine Centre Pham Quoc Duong said patients suffering from mental illness often required regular treatment and supervision. Therefore, a shortage in funding for medications could have negative impacts on their condition, he added.
“One more thing to note is that they are outpatients – patients not held in hospitals. Therefore, if they cannot control their behaviour, it can pose dangers to others in the community,” Duong said.
The director of the Nghe An Mental Hospital, Phan Kim Thin, said around 1,000 of the 8,300 outpatients without medication had been hospitalised for treatment, or used their own money to purchase medicine in the hospital. The remaining 7,000 could not afford hospital fees or medication.
In previous years, the hospital reportedly received VND650 million ($30,800) for prescription medication, but with the cost of treatment surging 20 per cent and patient numbers swelling by 30 per cent, the fund had dried up early, said Thin.
The lack of access to medication has seen a rapid rise in the number of patients being hospitalised or having hospital check ups. Statistics put the figures at around 30 people visiting the hospital per day – three times normal visitation rates.
In a bid to attract additional funding, the hospital sent letters to the provincial Department of Health and the Department of Finance to request a supplement fund of around VND560 million ($26,600). However, Thin says the hospital did not receive the fund until recently.
Deputy chief of the secretariat of the provincial Department of Health Nguyen Duc Dinh said the department has joined with the Department of Finance to issue the funds to the hospital as soon as possible.
While the funding will help support patients desperate for medication, the rising cost of prescription medication may well limit the number of beneficiaries.
The department was considering using other programme funds to support patients with mental illness, said Dinh.
The department has forecast the fund to be allocated to the hospital within two weeks.
Troubled teens get Tet presents
Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan yesterday presented gifts to 50 outstanding teenagers at the Rehabilitation School No 3 for juvenile criminals in the central city of Da Nang.
She also gave VND50 million (US$2,400) in food support for 550 children at the school for the upcoming Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays that will fall between January 28 and February 5.
The school, which is home to juvenile criminals in the central and Central Highlands region, provides vocational training and regular education for over 20,000 teen offenders
detained for crimes including robbery, theft and rape. As many as 47 per cent of students have found jobs after leaving the school and have re-integrated back into society.
“I hope all of you will remember the time you have spent living and studying at school, which will help you become good citizens,” Doan said at the event organised by the Fund for Vietnamese children and the Ministry of Public Security.
She added around 80 per cent of students at the school had come from troubled homes, had been motherless or in fact parentless.
The Vice President also took the opportunity to call on local authorities to help reformed juvenile criminals who might face discrimination after rejoining their communities.
Nguyen M.L (not his real name), who joined the school last year, said he committed crime after giving up his studies at High School in Central Highland Kon Tum Province.
“One day, I want to re-unite and be happy with my family when I leave the school,” he said.
Also yesterday, the Vice President handed gifts to 50 poor students of the city’s Ong Ich Duong Primary School.
Vietnam focuses on dealing with smuggling
The Economic Committee of the National Assembly on January 7 hosted a meeting to map out measures to prevent cross-border smuggling, thus helping reduce counterfeit goods and ensure food safety in the coming time.
The meeting, which was broadcast on radio and television, saw the participation of representatives from many relevant ministries, sectors and localities.
Speaking at the meeting, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said the smuggling situation in the country still remains complicated. Therefore, many kinds of counterfeit and unhygienic goods slipped into the Vietnamese market through border areas.
Since 2010, market management forces settled 828,488 cases of smuggling, fake goods and trade fraud. Illegally trafficked products included firecrackers, wild animals, wood and beverages.
Representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) urged trade associations to join in the fight, saying that it is necessary to improve competitiveness, while protecting and developing the trademark of Vietnamese goods to cope with the situation.
Relevant agencies should build specific policies for border regions to create jobs for people in those areas, helping improve their living conditions so they will not get involved in smuggling activities.
The MoIT is working with relevant ministries and sectors to build and submit a national programme on smuggling counterfeit goods and trade fraud prevention from now to 2020 to the Government. The programme is expected to serve as an important base for countering smuggling.
In the project, the ministry suggested to recruit 1,000 more market management officials to work in key areas. At present, the whole country has only 5,200 market managers, or just 100 people for each locality.
Participants said that the smuggling situation weakens the country’s economy and reduces the confidence of enterprises.
Agreeing with the opinions, Hoang said it is necessary to further enhance reconnaissance to detect trafficking rings, and strictly penalise traffickers in the time to come.
In her concluding speech at the meeting, National Assembly Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan stressed the need to modify and supplement policies to promote the
production of goods of domestic enterprises, thus improving competitiveness of local commodities.
She also urged ministries, sectors and local authorities to enhance their direction and responsibility in the prevention of smuggling, fake goods and trade fraud.
Cambodian victory remembered in HCM City
A ceremony was held in Ho Chi Minh City on January 7 to mark the 35th anniversary of the victory in the southwest border defense war and the joint victory of Vietnam and
Cambodia over the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime (January 7, 1979-2014).
The event, organized by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations’ and the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Association (VCFA)’s chapters in HCM City, was attended by representatives from municipal departments and sectors, the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Association, and the Cambodian Consulate General in the city.
Addressing the ceremony, VCFA President Truong Minh Nhut underlined the historical significance of the victory, saying that it was a milestone of pure and faithful solidarity and special friendship between Vietnam and Cambodia.
He said the victory saved Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge regime and helped the country enter into a new era of independence and freedom, adding that it also opened a new page in the history of relations between the two countries.
Nhut affirmed that the solidarity of the two countries’ people played an important role in helping both sides overcome obstacles to attain the great victory.
While expressing his gratitude to the Vietnamese Party, State, Army and people for all they did for Cambodia, Cambodian Consul General in HCM City Sim Sokhom stressed his country’s people are forever grateful for and will not forget the great support from Vietnamese volunteer soldiers, who laid down their lives for Cambodia’s national liberation 35 years ago.
Vietnam’s valuable assistance in all aspects contributed to his country’s present development, and the solidarity and friendship between the two nations is a solid foundation to promote all-around cooperation between them, he added.
Women’s Union urged to reinforce solidarity
Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) President Nguyen Thien Nhan has asked the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) to improve operational efficiency and promote emulation campaigns.
In his speech at the January 7 conference of the VWU Central Committee in Hanoi, he VFF leader said the front will accompany the union to scrutinise the effectuation of
policies for Vietnamese heroic mothers and martyrs as well as the project to take care of and promote the role of the overseas Vietnamese community.
He also asked the VWU to prepare a quarterly report underlining the aspirations and petitions of women for submission to the front.
Last year, the union launched a series of emulation campaigns to mark major national anniversaries, and focused on providing vocational training and creating jobs for women to help them get out of poverty, said VWU President Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa.
During the conference, participants heard reports on supporting women in vocational training and encouraging Catholic and ethnic minority women to engage in socio-economic development activities.
Established in 1930, the VWU now has about 13 million members with the aim of protecting women’s legitimate rights to ensure gender equality.
Vietnam hands over cultural centre to Laos
The Kaysone Phomvihane cultural centre, built with US$9 million from the Government of Vietnam, was handed over to Laos’ central province of Savanakhet at a ceremony on January 7.
The centre is a gift from the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), Vietnamese State and its people to the Lao People Revolutionary Party (LPRP), government and its people. The idea was announced during the Laos visit of CPV General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in 2011.
Addressing the hand-over event, Deputy Director of the CPV Central Committee’s Office Nguyen Huy Cuong said the cultural centre, which includes four blocks covering 1,355 square metres, was a beautiful symbol of the solidarity and traditional friendship between the two countries and their people.
On his part, Governor of Savanakhet province Souphanh Keomisay thanked Vietnam’s Party, State and people for their help to Laos over the past decades.
The centre would help to improve local people’s spiritual lives and enhance the traditional friendship between the two countries, he added.
Minister urges preventive measures against forest fires
Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, recently instructed citizens to prevent forest fires and urged them to make it a top priority during this dryseason.
Forest fire prevention is of the utmost importance and is relevant in this age of complicated and high tech development, which creates a greater risk of fires during this season from October 2013 to June 2014.
In 2013, 241 forest fires occurred nationwide, destroying a total of 932 hectares, mainly in the central highland provinces and the south central coast localities.
The minister asked each locality to actively implement regulations on the protection of forests and the prevention of fires as well as the need for fire fighting.
He also wanted them to intensify legal education and communication about the dangers of fires and to teach people the procedures they needed to learn to reduce fires.
The minister also instructed inter-sector agencies including forest rangers, the police and army forces to co-operate with the authorities at all levels to mobilise human resources and fire fighting equipment for a timely response to forest fires.
The local authorities were asked to improve the management of farming activities, especially in the areas of clearing new land for shifting cultivation, as well as for increasingcontrol and organising fire pickets to take timely action and tackle fires if they were to happen.
Related agencies and people were asked to keep track of the forest fire situation via the forest protection department’s early warning system for forest fires on the websitekiemlam.org.vn or by calling 098.6668333.
The Central Highlands province of Gia Lai suffered the most during the last dry season, with four fires destroying 400 hectares of forest land.
In an interview with Viet Nam News about the province’s plan to respond in a timely manner to fires that break out during the dry season, Nguyen Huu Long, head of forest management and protection office of the provincial sub-department of forest rangers, said that the province would tighten management this year, learn from past experiences,
and increase education to raise awareness amongst the residents about the dangers created by fires.
However, one of the difficulties the province is currently facing is the lack of funds to invest in afforestation initiatives, fire-fighting equipment, and technology, he added.
Contest highlights vocational training
Students at vocational schools nationwide can join a competition that aims to raise awareness about vocational education and training and improve working skills.
Participating students will team up in groups of five to produce a short video no longer than five minute or design a website highlighting the advantages of vocational education.
The selection will select the 15 best videos and websites to compete for first, second and third prize in each category.
All entries must be submitted before March 15. For more information about the contest, visit http://hocnghe.tcdn.gov.vn.
The competition was organised by the British Council Viet Nam in collaboration with the ministry of labour’s General Department of Vocational Training.
Pollution kills fish in Dong Nai River
Pollution in the Dong Nai River killed tonnes of fish in Bien Hoa City in the past few days, according to local authorities.
“Over ten tonnes of my mature freshwater fish died, including carp and hemibagrus, which caused my family to lose over VND500 million (US$23,000),” Tran Duc Can, a
local resident, told Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper.
Since residents in Thong Nhat and Tan Mai wards began breeding fish in floating rafts tens of years ago, the problem of fish dying en masse occasionally occurred. However,local residents say they have never seen such big losses.
Untreated wastewater from millions of households and thousands of factories was at fault, stated a report from the Economic Department of the city’s People’s Committee.
According to the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the amount of organic substances, iron and bacteria in the river exceeded permitted levels.
The pollution was exacerbated by bags of poultry internal organs used as fish food and a rapid increase in the number of fish cages—there are up to 800, despite the limit of200—which reduced the oxygen concentration in the water.
Local authorities have tried to reduce the number of fish cages in the area for years. Yet a planned relocation has still not been implemented, although its deadline was the end of last September.
Many local households with floating rafts in the river refused to relocate because they thought the small amount of compensation would not be sufficient for them to breed fish.
Pham Anh Dung, Deputy Chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that local authorities would force all local fishing households to relocate after Tet.
Central provinces to work more for AO/Dioxin victims
The central provinces of Nghe An and Quang Binh have planned various activities to further assist Agent Orange (AO)/Dioxin victims in the localities in 2014.
This year, the AO/dioxin victim fund of Nghe An plans to collect around three billion VND (142,800 USD), repair and build over 20 houses for families of AO/Dioxin victims, and grant 30 scholarships for their children.
It is also set to present 1,000 gift packages to families of victims on the occasion of the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
In 2013, the Nghe An fund received financial support totalling more than 2.5 billion VND (119,000 USD), presented over 3,300 gift packages and 93 scholarships, and built 48 houses for target families.
Nghe An is home to nearly 40,000 people infected with toxic chemicals. However, only about 15,600 AO/Dioxin victims have benefited from preferential policies.
Meanwhile, the Quang Binh Association for Victims of AO/Dioxin will increase the popularisation of the chemicals’ consequences to raise local officials and residents’ awareness.
It will effectively implement the State’s policies for the victims and people who rendered services during wartime, and call for donations from society.
Founded in November 2009, the association has given assistance to more than 5,600 victims and collected nearly 12.7 billion VND (604,800 USD) for the AO/Dioxin victimfund of Quang Binh.-
Work to start on 35 key transport projects this year
The transport sector will kick off the construction of 35 major projects and complete 58 others in 2014, according to the Ministry of Transport.
To this end, the ministry will urge investors to speed up ongoing projects, especially key ones such as the upgrading and expansion of National Highway 1 and Ho Chi Minh
Highway’s section running through the Central Highlands region, and Noi Bai-Lao Cai, Hanoi-Hai Phong, Da Nang-Quang Ngai, and Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highways.
At the same time, more investment will be poured in Dau Giay-Phan Thiet and Ninh Binh-Bai Vot highways, and Long Thanh, Tan Son Nhat and Cam Ranh internationalairports.
The sector will strive to effectively use investment sourced from the State budget, the official development assistance, preferential loans and other resources.
Last year, the ministry launched 78 projects and completed 46 others, helping upgrade and build more than 800 kilometres of national highways, nearly 4,000 metres of footbridges and over 1,000 metres of rail bridges.-
Vietnamese, Cambodian villages tighten solidarity
People in Hoa Khanh village, Tan Khanh Hoa commune, Giang Thanh district in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, will enjoy a Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday full ofhappiness as they can easily visit their relatives in Cambodia during the festive time.
This is the result of the twinning relationship between Hoa Khanh village and Pray Co Ros village in Pray Co Ros commune, Kom Pong Trach district, Kam Pot province, Cambodia, which was established in late December 2012.
Since the special linkage was set up, the two sides have encouraged their residents to protect the shared border and markers while actively fighting illegal border crossings, trafficking of women and children, and smuggling.
They have also joined hands in combating diseases and supported each other in production, making the solidarity and friendship a tradition shared by the two localities’ people.
Nguyen Van Trung, head of Hoa Khanh village, said the close relationship between the two communities has helped raise the spirit of responsibility among local people in implementing border regulations.
Meanwhile, the solidarity between people in My Lo village, My Duc commune, Ha Tien town, Kien Giang province and those in Tho Cau village, Ru Xay Soc Tay commune,Kom Pong province, have also been consolidated after the two villages were twinned.
Along with partnering with each other in combating smuggling, people from both localities have coordinated to protect their common borderline and markers, and abide by border regulations while supporting each other in production.
Sen. Lt. Col. Dang Van Thong, political commissar of the Kien Giang Border Guard Command, said the policy to step up twinning relationships between the two countries’ border people have been implemented for many years, contributing to enhancing solidarity while protecting each side’s sovereignty.
Hanoi acts to ensure traffic safety during Tet
The capital city has taken measures to ensure those travelling on its roads remain safe during the upcoming (Tet) Lunar New Year, according to Hanoi ‘s Traffic Police Department.
In parallel with cracking down on traffic violations, the office will mobilise forces to ensure the smooth flow of vehicles in hot spots such as flower markets, city gateways and festival venues.
One half of the traffic police staff will stay on duty during the long holiday which lasts from January 28 to February 6, and the force will be at full strength on New Year’s Eve which falls on January 30 to ensure traffic safety for citizens.
They will also conduct inspections from 7pm to midnight every working day and 24 hours a day over weekends to prevent motorbike and car races during the Tet holidays, said Colonel Dao Vinh Thang, Head of the department.
Construction accidents occur despite safety regulations
Despite numerous regulations on construction safety, accidents still occur due to the neglect of contractors and equipment failing to meet safety requirements, according to experts.
The clearest and most recent proof is the accident last Saturday when a crane carrying 35 tons of steel at the construction site of Bitexco’s The One project in HCMC
downtown suddenly fell down and damaged the fence and several artworks of nearby HCMC Fine Arts Museum.
Hoang Quang Nhu, deputy head of the Ministry of Construction’s Construction Activities Management Agency, told the Daily that safety in construction activities werecontrolled by the Construction Law. The Ministry of Construction has also issued Circular 22/2010/TT-BXD on safety requirements at construction sites, he added.
In addition, every year the ministry asks provinces and cities to inspect safety of construction works while localities also issue working safety regulations, according to Nhu.
“Overall, legal regulations requiring investors to ensure labor safety during the implementation of construction works are sufficient,” said Nhu.
However, in reality many crane collapses have occurred recently at construction sites, with some even causing fatalities. People in HCMC are always worried when goingunder cranes of construction work as heavy things overhead can cause accidents anytime.
Speaking to the Daily, Pham Tien Dung from the Sub-Institute of Labor and Environment Protection in Southern Vietnam said that in accordance with construction safetyregulations, no people were allowed to be under operational cranes.
According to Dung, accidents with construction activities happening in recent times mainly result from cranes carrying heavy objects, carelessness of drivers and neglect of contractors.
The responsibility for crane collapses are normally taken on by contractors and supervision consultancies as cranes have to be tested routinely, according to Le Thanh Cong, a construction expert in HCMC.
When carrying heavy objects, there must be supervisors to check the weights, the grounds and to ensure safety for nearby areas by signs and loudspeakers, Cong told the Daily.
According to Bitexco in a statement, the cause of the crane collapse last Saturday was the weak ground where the crane stood. Raffles-Phu Cuong as the project’s contractor will be responsible for repairing the fence.
The One project which is opposite Ben Thanh Market is surrounded by Pho Duc Chinh, Le Thi Hong Gam, Calmett and Pham Ngu Lao streets. It is a complex of office space, hotel, commercial center and serviced apartments.