A truck driver says he was unaware of the scaffolding collapse that triggered a massive traffic gridlock in HCMC Monday.
He also said he was not guilty of breaking any traffic law, and that his truck was not above the prescribed maximum height.
Ho Vu Linh Thuy, 40, said he was carrying oranges from the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long to Dong Nai Province, which neighbors HCMC, and reached the Saigon River Tunnel at around 5 a.m. on Monday.
“I had no idea that the truck had hit the scaffolding, which is why I kept driving,” Thuy said.
He said he only learned about the incident four hours later, after his employer called.
Thuy, who has been driving for 17 years, asserted that he had broken no law.
“Before entering the tunnel, I saw two barriers limiting the height at 4.2 meters, and my truck went through just fine, so the fact that it caused the scaffolding collapse really surprised me,” he said.
The scaffolding that Thuy hit was being used to build an overpass running beyond the Saigon River Tunnel, which connects District 1 and District 2.
It stood about 50 meters ahead of the tunnel’s mouth.
Ngo Hai Duong, an official from the city’s transport department, said Monday morning that the cargo truck was higher than the regulated height for the tunnel, which is 4.2 meters.
But the police have now said the truck is only four meters high with a loading capacity of 17.6 tons.
Thuy said he was driving his truck at 30 kilometers (less than 19 miles) per hour.
After he was informed of the accident, Thuy checked the back of his truck and found that the canvas had been torn, several screws had bent and some oranges were damaged.
He left his truck halfway to Dong Nai and took a bus to return to HCMC to present himself to the police, he said.
Following the scaffolding collapse, police had to block the entire tunnel, causing massive traffic jams lasting five hours.
The overpass that is being built will link to a street that runs into the Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2, which is being developed as a new financial and cultural hub.
District 2 is an area heavily favored by expatriates in HCMC.
The project’s investor has not commented on Monday’s accident.
Opened in late 2011, Thu Thiem is the only river tunnel in Vietnam and the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. It is 1.49 kilometers (less than one mile) long, 33 meters wide and nine meters high with six lanes, apart from two emergency exit lanes.
More than 47,000 cars and 230,000-270,000 motorbikes use the tunnel each day.