Construction inspectors collaborate with functional forces to demolish an illegal building in District 2, HCM City. (Photo thanhnien.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) – When Pham Sy Liem, former deputy minister of construction, recommended that the Government hire private construction inspection services, he met with mixed opinions from experts.

At a conference on construction hosted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in mid-December, Liem said that employing private construction inspection services would help reduce the number of people on the State payroll and tighten building management.

He told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper that the State inspection agencies had poorly performed their functions of ensuring compliance, especially when several cases of construction law violations had been discovered.

In Binh Chanh district of HCM City, for example, illegal residential construction on farming land had been underway for a long time before functional forces handled it.

According to Liem, governmental construction inspection does not exist in many countries, including the US. Evaluating building quality is therefore carried out by private service providers.

Liem said that Vietnam could adopt this model by piloting it in some districts of Hanoi and HCM City. If the services proved efficient, the model could be duplicated in other provinces, he said.

“The current State construction inspections can be converted into companies providing services of inspecting and evaluating construction works. The government then only needs to maintain a small agency to make inspection plans before starting any project,” he added.

The newspaper also reported that a real estate company’s leader expressed support for the proposal.

According to him, many public construction inspectors are not specialised in construction, so they cannot analyse and diagnose problems like a professional engineer would.

Meanwhile, some experts questioned Liem’s opinion.

Nguyen Quoc Hiep, President of the Vietnam Association of Construction Contractors, recommended rearranging the public construction inspections, giving control to local authorities. Moreover, he said that it was impossible to depend totally on outsourced inspection services as the Government also needed to manage the evaluation.

Tran Viet Trung, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Construction, said that Liêm’s suggestion called for further discussion.

“It is essential to analyse carefully Vietnam’s condition before adopting the foreign countries’ model,” said Trung.

Pham Gia Yen, former chief inspector at the Ministry of Construction, agreed that private construction inspection services could provide tighter management, similar to the role of audit firms in the financial sector. However, as inspectors enforce the law, he said the Government should provide proper mechanisms on services employment.

Architect Ngo Viet Nam Sơn, on the other hand, suggested the Government tighten construction management, beginning with the licensing process.

He said illegal construction in Vietnam is not completely addressed as constructors can pay fines to maintain their works. Meanwhile, in other countries, buildings without any permits will be demolished by functional forces.

“The removal of State construction inspection could worsen the problem. Therefore, firmer management policies should be adopted by related agencies, including the leaders of departments of construction and local authorities for the stricter law enforcement,” he said.-VNA