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Japanese ambassador warns of halt of Saigon metro project over unpaid $100mn debts

Saturday, November 24, 2018, 16:51 GMT+7
Japanese ambassador warns of halt of Saigon metro project over unpaid $100mn debts
An aerial view of a construction site for the Ben Thanh Terminal of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro line. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Construction of a Japan-built metro line in Ho Chi Minh City might have to be halted after the end of 2018 as unpaid contractors’ wage has amounted to more than US$100 million, the Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam said in a letter.

Development for the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien metro line began in 2007 using official development assistance (ODA) loans from Japan.

However, since October 2017 the project has not received any budget disbursement due to late approval of an adjusted investment plan, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Umeka Kunio said in the letter sent to Ho Chi Minh City’s Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan.

Even though the municipal administration has pledged to use its own money to pay Japanese contractors while waiting for budget from the central government, the promise has not been kept, Umeka Kunio said.

As of November, unpaid contractors’ wage has amounted to more than $100 million, the Japanese ambassador pointed out.

“If this issue is not resolved by the end of December 2018, I’m sorry to say that constructions on the project will have to be halted,” Ambassador Umeda Kunio stressed in his letter.

According to Ambassador Kunio, Japanese contractors are working hard to get the metro line ready for its scheduled opening in 2020.

With that in mind, Kunio said, he hoped that Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan would take necessary measures to speed up budget disbursement for the project.

The first metro line in Ho Chi Minh City runs nearly 20 kilometers from Ben Thanh Market in the downtown area to the Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9.

It is estimated to cost VND47.3 trillion (US$2 billion) in investment capital, and will be capable of transporting 620,000 passengers per day upon completion, taking pressure away from the city’s overcrowded public transport system that’s overly dependent on buses.

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Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

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