Three oil tanker drivers working for two Petrolimex subsidiaries in HCM City have been suspended for allegedly stealing petrol while transporting it.

The Vietnam National Petroleum Group, as Petrolimex is formally known, on Jan. 9 instructed its subsidiaries to investigate after Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper reported that several drivers colluded with outsiders to steal fuel.

The report said the crew of a particular tanker, with number plate 57K-8275, goes to a spot in District 7 where petrol is taken out and filled in eight 50-litre plastic cans.

Another liquid is pumped into the truck to replace the stolen quantity, it added.

The truck belongs to the Petroleum Mechanical Joint Stock Company, one of the Petrolimex subsidiaries.

Upon questioning, the driver of the truck, Vo Minh Toan, and his assistant, Vu Duc Thuan, admitted to stealing the fuel, and were suspended.

Petrolimex Sai Gon Transport and Service Joint Stock Company, another subsidiary, suspended Pham Anh Tuan and Cao Thanh Tam, both drivers, on similar grounds.

Vuong Thai Dung, deputy general director of Petrolimex, told Thanh Nien on Jan. 9 that the drivers have admitted to stealing the oil.

Further investigation was required to find out if they have added something, he said, adding Petrolimex has asked the police to begin criminal proceedings.

Tran Minh Dung, head of the Ministry of Science and Technology's Inspectorate, said the ministry will undertake inspection of petrol quality around the country.

It is already testing 3,000 samples to find out if the rash of recent vehicle fires are related to fuel quality, he said.

The ministry will announce the cause of the fires by January 23, he promised./.