Completion of the metro line has been held off for a total of five years
Eight years since construction started on the development of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line, its completion date remains uncertain, with city officials blaming bureaucratic red tape for dogging the project.
Ho Chi Minh City has ambitious plans to develop a network of eight metro lines, stretching a total of 220 kilometers, to combat growing number of personal vehicles on its roads.
Construction of the first line, which connects downtown Ho Chi Minh City with District 9 in the city’s eastern part, was launched in 2010 with the completion date initially set for 2015.
When completed, the 19.7-kilometer line could transport 620,000 passengers per day, taking pressure away from the city’s overcrowded public transport system that’s overly dependent on buses.
However, in 2011 the municipal administration adjusted the project’s investment capital from VND17.4 trillion (US$765 million) to VND47.3 trillion ($2 billion) and announced that its completion would be delayed until 2018.
Sluggish land clearance and adjustments to the line’s original design for better connection with future metro lines were named as reasons for the delay, according to city officials at the time.
According to Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, the lawmaking National Assembly has yet to approve the capital raise, effectively barring the city from money critically needed to pay contractors.
Without payment, some foreign contractors are already slowing down works on the project or even withdrawing experts from Vietnam as a sign of protest, Tuyen said.
At some construction sites, vandalism has been spotted as unfinished items are left to gather dust without signs of human activity.
As such, city officials have once again announced a delay in completion of the first metro line until 2020, while asking for more autonomy in deciding various important procedures, mechanism, and policies regarding the construction of the line as part of an effort to expedite the project.
In 2017, Ho Chi Minh City was forced to spend VND1.67 trillion ($73.5 million) from its own budget to pay contractors while waiting for capital allocation from the government.
This year, the city fears it will have to spend another VND1 trillion ($43.95 million) to avoid legal liabilities stemming from the late payment.