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​Sluggish construction plagues Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta expressway

Monday, April 02, 2018, 15:13 GMT+7
​Sluggish construction plagues Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta expressway
Construction along the Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The construction of an expressway connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta has been repeatedly delayed for nearly a decade, with experts concerned that it would not be finished in the near future.

The massive highway, connecting Ho Chi Minh City with the Mekong Delta hub of Can Tho, stretches 120 kilometers and consists of three major sections.

The first section, Ho Chi Minh City - Trung Luong, which links the southern metropolis with Tien Giang Province, was completed in 2010.

The second part, Trung Luong - My Thuan is currently under construction, while the third section, My Thuan - Can Tho, is only in its preparation phase.

My Thuan is the neighboring area between Tien Giang and Vinh Long Province.

Following repeated delays, the entire project is expected to be completed in 2021, a timeline doubted by experts and industry insiders.

Only a few workers are seen at the construction site of the Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway in Than Cuu Nghia Commune, Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Only a few workers are seen at the construction site of the Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway in Than Cuu Nghia Commune, Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Trung Luong - My Thuan

The 54-kilometer Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway had its first sod turned in 2009 and had since on a sluggish progress until 2012, when the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), the original developer, ditched the project due to difficulties with its capital investment.

A new developer then took over the project and recommenced it in 2015, but construction was later delayed out of complicated bank loan procedures.

Construction was actually halted to have its design adjusted to improve safety between 2016 and June 2017, following a request by the Ministry of Transport.

Only three percent of the construction has been finished so far.

According to Tran Van Thi, general director of CIPM Cuu Long, which manages the project on behalf of the state, the developer has channeled 15 percent of the investment capital, which is equivalent to VND1.542 trillion (US$67.8 million).

However, they have not been able to sign a loan agreement, Thi said.

If this funding issue is resolved by the end of May, the developer will be able to push construction in June and reach completion within the second quarter of 2020, he added.

An excavator is abandoned along a section of the Trung Luong - My Thuan construction. Photo: Tuoi Tre
An excavator is abandoned along a section of the Trung Luong - My Thuan construction. Photo: Tuoi Tre

My Thuan - Can Tho

The My Thuan - Can Tho expressway project was approved by the Ministry of Transport in August 2017, according to Phung Tuan Son, an official of the Thang Long Project Management Board, which is authorized to manage the plan.

The section stretches 23.5 kilometers, with capital investment estimated at VND5.37 trillion ($236.2 million), Son continued.

But no work has been started for the project, with the management board only submitted the plan to select developers to the transport ministry, the official admitted.

The invitation is expected to be issued in April and May, and the tender will be opened four months later to choose the most suitable developer.

Construction won’t start until 2019 and finish in 2021, Son elaborated.

“Several investors have shown interest in the project due to its crucial role in local transportation development,” Son said.

“The expressway will also help boost sustainable development in the entire Mekong Delta.”

While it is uncertain when the Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho Expressway will come on stream, people looking for faster transportation between the two cities can put hope on a high-speed railway traveling the same route.

Canada’s MorFund Financial Inc. announced early March it would invest some $5 billion in the Saigon - Can Tho rail project, which is expected to commence this year.

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Duy Khang / Tuoi Tre News

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