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Ho Chi Minh City hotlines prove a good channel for citizens’ complaints

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 19:42 GMT+7

In recent years, hotlines in Ho Chi Minh City have served as a means for residents to voice their grievances and have them addressed in a timely manner.

In an office building on Ton Duc Thang Street in District 1 at around 6:00 am one recent morning, staff operating a hotline to receive reports of infrastructure incidents changed shifts.

From 7:00 am on, phones rang constantly while feedback and complaints were forwarded to the relevant agencies authorized to resolve them.

According to Duong Thi Thuy An, manager of the Customer Care Department at the Ho Chi Minh City branch of state-owned power supplier Vietnam Electricity (EVN), which manages the hotline, the department originally launched the call center to deal with reports of electricity malfunction.

Owing to the good performance of the staff, in April 2013 the center was then tasked by the city administration with running an infrastructure incident hotline, covering traffic, public transport, water supply and drainage, lighting and tree care.

Twenty staff members work four separate shifts to ensure the infrastructure line, which receives around 200 calls per day, operates on a 24/7 basis.

It costs approximately VND 2.1 billion (US$ 93,161) each year to operate the line.

The hotline serves as an effective link between the municipal administration and residents, who report incidents including falling trees, ground subsidence, broken electric or telecom cables, damaged drains, broken water pipes, malfunctioning street lights, and traffic incidents.

Since it was launched on February 21, 2016, the center is also temporarily in charge of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee hotline, (08.88247247).

Ngo Anh Viet, director of the Customer Care Department at EVN’s Ho Chi Minh City branch, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the Party Committee’s line is currently the ‘hottest.’

Within 10 days of its launch, the line received more than 2,000 calls and 9,000 messages.

Feedback and queries, carefully categorized into different areas, are transferred quickly to the Party Committee office.

Residents immediately began calling in to voice their dissatisfaction with their daily lives, including some long-harbored grievances.

Many even waited until the wee hours to get through during the first few days of the hotline’s launch due to an overloaded system.

Phone operator Tran Thi Hoang Thi revealed that she often enjoys callers rambling on for 30 or 40 minutes.

Room for improvement

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications said that the infrastructure incident hotline, (08.39.111.333) and the recently established 1022 remain inadequate when it comes to resident notifications of when their feedback is addressed, leading to further frustration.

The department is currently working on an information portal to allow more transparent processing of citizens’ infrastructure reports and feedback.

Relevant agencies will inform residents, ministry and department leaders, as well as the press, of how they are addressing the grievances on the portal.

An official from the department said that the portal is nearly finished and will be in operation soon.

Vo Van Hoan, head of the municipal People’s Committee office, revealed that information technology will be made better use of to address urgent information and complaints.

He added that the committee is poised to take over the hotline of Secretary of the Party Committee Dinh La Thang in a bid to remove unnecessary intermediaries and expedite resolutions.

“There will be no procrastination or waiting, and an office chief will be deputized to work out complaints that need immediate action,” Hoan asserted.

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