Tardy progress of HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway

As per schedule, the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway should be complete by 2013 but so far construction of the highway project is moving far too slow, according to reporters visiting the site.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the completion of the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway was urgent, to meet the rapidly increasing demand for transportation in the region.

Image of Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway ( Photo VnExpress )

The highway project is an important North-South link, passing through Districts 2 and 9 of HCMC and Long Thanh, Nhon Trach, Cam My and Thong Nhat Districts of Dong Nai Province.

The highway will start at the intersection of Luong Dinh Cua Street and the East-West Highway in District 2 in HCMC and end at a 2.7 kilometre point from the Dau Giay T-junction in Dong Nai Province.

According to the project management board, work has been underway on the 55 kilometre highway via six or seven construction bids. Work has also begun on the biggest bridge, the Long Thanh Bridge.

Leveling of the road surface, filling of ponds and swamps in District 9 of HCMC and treatment of weak road-bed in Dong Nai Province will be complete before the rainy season this year, said the director of the project management board.

However, when reporters visited the site, they noticed the tardy pace of construction.

The biggest obstacle has been the slow pace in site clearance and relocation of residents. There are 900 households who have refused to relocate from a 40 km stretch in Dong Nai Province, though VND 170 billion has been spent to get these people to relocate! 

Since the time the construction of the HCMC-Dau Giay highway was kicked off, progress has been far too slow, mainly because of delays in site clearance.  

Another difficulty is that the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) method has been unsuccessful from a funding standpoint. The BOT model is often applied to projects that offer an attractive return of assets (ROA) for private investors.

During the project's implementation, many unexpected things happen, particularly escalation in costs.

In BOT projects, the Government should support investors in various ways, including capital mobilisation, as guarantors, when it comes to distributing Official Development Assistance (ODA).

In Vietnam, both the private sector and State enterprises are involved in BOT infrastructure projects. However it is not easy to find infrastructure projects that are lucrative enough to attract the private sector. Even the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway, which was forecast to attract high traffic volume, turned out to be a disappointment.

Besides, experts fear that the transport volume ended up being much lower than predicted. In addition, it is imperative to regulate the entire transport system to ensure a balance in the volume of transport.

The HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay highway is one of the most crucial strategic projects in South Vietnam. The highway is part of the Saigon-Tay Nguyen-Hanoi route.

When the highway is completed by 2013, the distance between HCMC and Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and other south-eastern provinces will be greatly reduced. The US$932 million project will shorten the journey from HCMC to Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province by 20 kilometres.

The highway will also link with the Long Thanh International Airport scheduled to be built in Dong Nai by 2015.The new highway would link three major economic centres in the southern region, namely HCMC, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau. It would help HCMC East-West Highway and Phu My Bridge to function more effectively.

The highway will allow vehicles to travel at 120 km per hour. After the first phase is complete, the four-lane road will be opened to traffic next year. In the second phase, its width will be expanded to 42.5 metres to eight lanes.

The project has received funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency ($516 million), Asian Development Bank ($410 million) and the Vietnam Expressway Corporation ($5.7 million).

Source SGGP, Translated by Dan

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