Components of a major expressway in southern Vietnam are being stolen repeatedly, putting vehicles at risk and causing mounting losses.
The Vietnam Expressway Services Engineering Joint Stock Company (VECE), which manages the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, said up to 116 cases of theft have been recorded so far this year.
More than 1,000 cast iron manhole covers, 500 meters of power cable, more than 400 meters of control wire, 448 meters of earth wire, 11 traffic cones and metal beam crash barriers have been stolen from the expressway that runs 55 kilometers (34 miles), connecting HCMC with the neighboring provinces of Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
Nguyen Thi Hoai Phuong, deputy director of VECE, said the total value of the stolen products was around VND1 billion ($43,000), but it costs a lot more to replace them with new ones.
The greater worry is about the risks that such stealing poses for vehicles.
Metal beam crash barriers save vehicles from serious damage in case of accidents while traffic cones are mounted on the pedestals along the road and the dividing strip to help vehicles in low light areas.
The most serious problem is the stealing of power cable, which has paralyzed the lighting control system in Xuan Thanh Commune, Thong Nhat District, Dong Nai Province.
VECE has reported the problem to local police and the company itself frequently checks the area, but theft has continued to rise.
For three days in a row last month, hundreds of manhole covers plates were taken away.
On early October 30, a team from VECE caught a container truck driver stopping his vehicle along the expressway in Long Thanh District of Dong Nai and taking 24 plates.
Earlier, the team caught two men taking power cables in District 2 of HCMC and another man driving a truck to the area with the same purpose.
Costing more than VND20.6 trillion ($883.7 million), the expressway opened to traffic in 2015, cutting the travel time between HCMC and the beach town Vung Tau from two and a half hours to just 80 minutes.
From 2016 to date, power cables have been stolen at least 12 times along the expressway.
Huu Nguyen report on Vnexpress