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Vietnamese scrap dealer picks up pointed objects on national highway to prevent accidents

Sunday, February 03, 2019, 15:38 GMT+7
Vietnamese scrap dealer picks up pointed objects on national highway to prevent accidents
Nguyen Van Thanh walks with his magnet along National Route 1, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

A scrap dealer has spent part of his time picking up nails and other pointed objects dropped on Vietnam’s longest road route over the past two years, hoping fewer vehicles would suffer flat tires.

Nguyen Van Thanh used to search for scrap along a road in Ho Chi Minh City and decided to collect nails dropped on it after witnessing traffic accidents, including a deadly one, which stemmed from punctured tires, the man told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

Thanh moved to the city two years ago and has since picked up empty bottles and potentially dangerous pointed metal objects left on National Route 1, which traverses the southern metropolis.

He can be seen dressed in an old loose shirt riding a bicycle to the 2,300-kilometer-long highway from his accommodation in the city’s suburban Cu Chi District.

The pointed objects he collects with a magnet a day may weigh over half a kilogram in total.

Nguyen Van Thanh shows a magnet with pointed objects that he collects along a portion of Vietnam’s lifeline National Route 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Van Thanh shows a magnet with pointed objects that he collects along a portion of Vietnam’s lifeline National Route 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

He said much more pointed objects were being deliberately dropped on the road these days in the lead-up to Tet, Vietnam’s most important and longest holiday, when people head home for family reunions or go traveling.

He had returned to his hometown in Tay Ninh Province, about 90 kilometers to the northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, for this festive time but finally went back to the metropolis out of worries that nails dropped on the highway may cause accidents for motorcyclists, he said.

“Roads are crowded with vehicles during Tet. And it’s a great sadness to see riders get into accidents due to nails,” he said.

“I’m staying in the city this Tet and will visit my hometown when the holiday ends.”

Some people believed he was mentally ill because they thought the man in poverty cared about issues unrelated to him, he said.

Nguyen Van Thanh smiles during an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. Photo: Le Pha / Tuoi Tre
Nguyen Van Thanh smiles during an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

But he said he could not turn a blind eye to the road menace upon recalling the deaths of two female motorcyclists and another whose arm was severed after she fell onto an iron crash barrier.

All came from tires that became flat when the wheels ran over sharp objects.

“Everyone wants to arrive home safely for Tet. Just as many others choose to work for charity in various ways, so I help our society in my own way.”

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