A contest launched by Hanoi’s administration and transport department in January to seek breakthrough solutions to its chronic traffic congestion has just closed in a complete media blackout.
The contest organizers advertised a whopping grand prize of US$200,000 in cash for the winning idea, in addition to one second prize of $100,000 and $25,000 in credit support for any entry with a complete and qualified proposal.
Launched on January 12, the contest accepted entries submitted by domestic and international consulting companies no later than April 27.
Despite the winner announcement date initially set for May, it was not until last Friday that an awards ceremony was held in suspicious secrecy at the headquarters of the municipal People’s Committee.
According to sources of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, there was no winner of the grand prize, while the second prize went to a joint entry submitted by the Vietnam Institute for Urban and Rural Planning (VIUP), Nikken Sekkei Civi Engineering LTD (NSC), and Nikken Sekkei Reseach Institute (NSRI).
Five other shortlisted submissions received $25,000 in credit support each.
No information regarding the awards ceremony was made known to local media or the public in advance, while reporters who arrived at the administration’s headquarters on Friday had the door shut to their faces for not having an invitation letter.
Those that waited patiently outside were only able to have a swift interview with a representative of one of the winning entries, who refused to provide any specific detail.
As of Monday, no information on the winning solutions or reportage of the awards ceremony could be found on the official site of either Hanoi’s administration or the municipal Department of Transport.
Ngo Manh Tuan, deputy director of the department, said the city had chosen not to publish the winning solutions just yet, while claiming that the awards ceremony had been “held in public” and that there had been “nothing to hide.”
Tuan refused to respond to further questions, asking reporters to submit their written inquiries instead.
Meanwhile, Luu Duc Cuong, acting director of VIUP, said the institute was under no obligation to announce its solution, for the responsibility rested on the administration of Hanoi.
Cuong said accusations that the contest organizers were trying to hide the winners’ details were “petty” and “not worth paying attention to.”