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Vietnam’s vehicle inspection and registration system has been plagued by systemic corruption, leading to significant challenges for car owners and the general public. This article delves into the intricate workings of the bribery system within the vehicle inspectorate department, the impact it had on vehicle inspections, and the subsequent implications for car owners and expatriates in Vietnam.
How the Vehicle Inspection Department’s Bribery System Worked
The bribery system within Vietnam’s Vehicle Inspectorate Department was an entrenched and clandestine network. Directors of vehicle registration and inspection centers reportedly paid substantial monthly bribes to senior officials, including Dang Viet Ha, the head of the Vietnam Register.
These bribes allowed the centers to operate without stringent inspections and allowed vehicles to pass inspection even if they did not meet the necessary safety and environmental standards. In return, the corrupt officials pocketed vast sums of money, perpetuating the cycle of corruption within the department.
Long-Standing Practice of Bribery for Lenient Vehicle Inspection
The practice of bribing inspectors for lenient vehicle inspections appears to have been a long-standing issue within the department. For years, vehicle owners sought shortcuts to pass inspections without adhering to proper safety regulations. As a result, road safety was compromised, and vehicles posing risks to drivers and other road users were allowed to continue operating freely on the roads.
Vehicle Inspectors Depleted by Investigation and Computer Data
The investigation into corruption within the Vehicle Inspectorate Department caused a significant depletion of experienced vehicle inspectors. With key personnel under investigation or arrested, the department faced a severe shortage of competent staff to conduct inspections efficiently. Moreover, access to computer data and records may have been compromised due to corrupt officials manipulating or deleting critical information.
The systemic corruption that froze Vietnam’s Vehicle Inspectorate Department in early 2023 had far-reaching consequences for car owners, expatriates, and road safety in the country. The investigation into bribery practices and subsequent arrests have exposed deep-rooted issues within the department, necessitating comprehensive reforms to ensure a transparent and effective vehicle inspection process for all. Until then, vigilance remains crucial for both car owners and expatriates navigating Vietnam’s roads.
Early January 2023 Arrests of Heads of Some Centers and Director of the Inspectorate
The initial arrests in early January 2023 targeted high-ranking officials, including the head of the Vietnam Register, Dang Viet Ha, and directors of several vehicle registration centers. These arrests signaled the beginning of a broader investigation into multiple inspection centers across different provinces.
Extended Investigation of All Inspection Centers and Further Arrests
As the investigation expanded, authorities looked into vehicle registration and inspection centers in Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, Tien Giang, Soc Trang, Dong Thap, and Ben Tre. Numerous directors, deputy directors, and employees of these centers were implicated in the bribery scheme and were subsequently arrested. The extensive scope of the investigation demonstrated the depth of corruption within the department.
Delays in Vehicle Inspection Due to Chaos in Decisions
With the top leadership of the Vehicle Inspectorate Department under investigation and multiple centers facing closures, chaos ensued in the decision-making process. Lack of clarity and disruptions in the organizational hierarchy resulted in delays in vehicle inspections. Many car owners experienced uncertainty and frustration as they struggled to comply with inspection requirements.
Unprecedented Decisions in Arrests and Investigations Started with Management of the Inspectorate by Decrees
The arrests and investigations into the Vehicle Inspectorate Department were unprecedented and indicative of the Vietnamese government’s determination to root out corruption. The management of the inspectorate through decrees allowed for swift action, but it also created a temporary power vacuum and further complicated the inspection process.
As Desertion and Center Ghosting Mounted, Delays Piled up While Vehicles Circulated Illegally
As the scale of corruption became apparent, some inspectors abandoned their posts or “ghosted” their roles, leaving inspection centers understaffed and incapable of processing the backlog of inspections. Consequently, many vehicles continued to circulate on the roads without proper inspection, posing risks to road safety.
Training and Re-Staffing Will Take Time Unless a “Presidential Grace” Is Drafted
To rebuild the Vehicle Inspectorate Department, thorough training and re-staffing are necessary. However, these processes take time, and the authorities may need to consider temporary measures to ensure the smooth operation of inspection centers until a complete overhaul can be achieved.
Car Risks for Expats in Vietnam
For expatriates living in Vietnam, the systemic corruption within the Vehicle Inspectorate Department poses significant risks. The lack of rigorous inspections and adherence to safety standards increases the likelihood of encountering vehicles with hidden mechanical issues, potentially endangering the lives of expats and other road users. Expats should be cautious and vigilant while navigating Vietnam’s roads and consider alternative transportation options if unsure about the safety of a vehicle.
Vehicle Inspectorate Department Sources
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