The Transport Ministry has confirmed that concrete poles used in a section of the Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay Expressway currently under construction are substandard.

It made the confirmation in a report on the expressway project's package N°3 submitted to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on December 25.

The conclusion was reached after an inspection of the expressway section done on Tuesday by the ministry's Engineering Construction and Quality Management Bureau as well as the project management board.

The inspection immediately followed a report alleging substandard construction that was carried by the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper early Tuesday morning.

The paper had conducted its own investigation after receiving a letter of denunciation about the quality of concrete poles used in expressway section that runs through southern Dong Nai province's Long Thanh town.

It reported that as much as 30-40 percent of materials that have to be used to construct the poles had not been used.

The ministry's inspection team ordered four concrete poles to be pulled up at random for quality checks. The quality of the first pole taken out shocked the inspectors because it seemed to be deformed.

They suspect that much less concrete was used to build the pole than originally designed. It was also found to be clammy and weak because it was mainly built with stone, cement and soil, the inspectors found.

Concrete bits inside the pole easily fell off when inspectors used an iron bar to prick it. The same thing happened with two other poles. The lack of cement was also found in the fourth concrete pole pulled up.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said the ministry has ordered the Vietnam Expressway Corporation to check quality of all concrete poles in the section, identify causes and quickly repair all substandard ones before December 30 - when the section was set to open to traffic.

The ministry also ordered the corporation to strictly deal with any violations it found committed by relevant parties, including project contractor POSCO E&C of the Republic of Korea, consultant Nippon Koei of Japan and Vietnam's Transport Engineering Design Inc South (Tedi South).

These actions have to be taken before next Monday, the ministry has directed. Construction of the 55-km expressway, connecting Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai province, began in December 2009 with a total investment capital of over 20.6 trillion VND (968.2 million USD).-VNA