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Shipbuilders flout contracts in fishing boat scandal in central Vietnam: inspectors

Friday, June 23, 2017, 11:31 GMT+7
Shipbuilders flout contracts in fishing boat scandal in central Vietnam: inspectors
One of the 18 poor-quality steel-clad fishing boats is seen in Binh Dinh Province, located in south-central Vietnam.

Two shipbuilders responsible for 18 fishing boats which suffered damage shortly after delivery were found to have violated the technical specifications listed in their contracts with fishermen in the south-central province of Binh Dinh, inspectors said Thursday.

The steel-clad vessels, ranging from VND12 billion (US$528,634) to VND20 billion ($881,057) in value, were delivered to Binh Dinh fishermen in September 2016.

Thirteen of the vessels were built by Nam Trieu Co., run by the Ministry of Public Security, while the remaining boats were built by Dai Nguyen Duong Co.

However, in April 2017, ten of the ship owners filed a complaint to local authorities that their boats were experiencing damage after only a few fishing trips.

By the end of that month, the number of affected boats had risen to 18, with the Binh Dinh agriculture department confirming that all of the Nam Trieu-built ships had malfunctioning engines while the Dai Nguyen Duong vessels suffered from rusted and deteriorated covers.

Following fishermen’s complaints about the poor quality of the vessels, the Binh Dinh agriculture department dispatched inspectors to evaluate the 18 ships in question, with the preliminary results announced at a meeting on Thursday.

Violating contracts

Speaking at the meeting, Tran Van Phuc, deputy director of the Binh Dinh agriculture department, announced that the inspection team examined 17 out of the 18 affected ships and discovered “a number of problems on these vessels.” The one unexamined ship is still on a fishing trip.

The inspection found that all five boats by Dai Nguyen Duong were built using made-in-China steel while the 12 vessels built by Nam Trieu used South Korean products.

Three steel samples from Dai Nguyen Duong and five from Nam Trieu failed to meet regulatory standards for fishing boat covers, according to the examiners.

All of the Chinese steel-clad ships constructed by Dai Nguyen Duong were already rusted and beginning to deteriorate.

The inspectors also discovered that nine of the main engines on the Nam Trieu boats, although labeled as Mitsubishi, are not genuine.

The Japanese company also confirmed that they did not produce those nine engines.

The engines on the three remaining Nam Trieu boats were produced by South Korea’s Doosan and, albeit authentic, are not considered reliable, according to the inspection team.

The inspectors also found that many of the sub-engines on the 17 boats had originated in China though they were supposed to be Singaporean-made.

At Thursday’s meeting, affected fishermen demanded that the two shipbuilders rebuild or repair the low-quality boats and exchange any engines and equipment installed against the specs specified in the contracts at no additional cost.

The Binh Dinh inspectors also made similar requests.

However, only Nam Trieu Co. representatives attended the meeting and promised to meet all the requests from the fishermen. Nam Dai Duong Co. failed to alert Binh Dinh authorities that they would be absent from the meeting.

The case is still being examined by Binh Dinh authorities.

“We will handle all civil violations, and the provincial police will participate in the investigation if any signs of criminal offenses are found,” the province’s deputy chairman Tran Chau said.

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