Among these is Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway which has been at a standstill for the last several months after completing 72.41 percent of the work volume. The ministry worries that it will not be finished on schedule on December 14 next year. Although the ministry and the State Capital Management Committee in Enterprises have worked together to clear difficulties, the coordination has been inefficient.
Similarly, Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway is 27 percent behind schedule. Authorized by the Transport Ministry, the People’s Committee of Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta has made efforts to clear problems and advanced funds for site clearance but the situation has not been improved yet.
Of the seven projects behind schedule, five are in the urban railway field. Of which, two in HCMC include the first and second metro lines Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien, which has completed 62 percent of the work volume, and Ben Thanh-Tham Luong. The municipal authorities have used the city budget for construction of the first project and been waiting for the National Assembly to approve total capital adjustment. Besides bid package CP1 of building the office building for the Ben Thanh-Tham Luong project, the remaining of eight packages have not been started because of problems in project adjustment and capital source.
In Hanoi, three urban railway lines have been in arrears including Cat Linh-Ha Dong. It has been unclear about the time to put the project into commercial operation because problems in procedures for acceptance of and safe certification of the work.
Nhon-Hanoi station project has done 55 percent of the work volume after seven years of construction. Initially scheduled to come into operation in 2017, it has been delayed till the end of 2022. The last one is Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi which is still under the phase of completing bid package documents.
Reasons clear, responsibilities unclear
According to the Ministry of Transport, the behind schedule situation has been due to many reasons including capital shortage, site clearance difficulties, sand shortage and review as well as adjustment in design of some items.
Of that, many projects have been in the way of site clearance namely Ben Luc-Long Thanh, Trung Luong-My Thuan, Phap Van-Cau Gie, Hai Van Tunnel, La Son-Tuy Loan. Still the most concern is the weak ability of investors and contractors.
Surprisingly the ministry has just recognized the very weak ability of the Chinese general contractor of Cat Linh-Ha Dong project which has failed to meet schedule for many times after 11 years of building with the total capital of VND18 trillion (US$769.54 million).
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong estimated that the Chinese general contractor is unable to manage and mobilize contractors and less experienced in urban railway operation and exploitation.
In Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway project, the ministry estimated that the steering capacity of Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) and the ability of contractors is very weak. For instance, although VEC continuously affirmed that the construction ability and experience of the joint venture of two contractors had been verified but in fact Kukdong and Mekong contractors have weak capacity with insufficient machines and equipment so the projects’ progress has been too slow. A VEC representative admitted that the investor’s steering to contractors was less efficient due to limitations in capital source causing payment to contractor fail to meet requirement.
In front of the danger that the behind schedule progress will keep moving on and cause project collapse and seriously affect investment efficiency, the ministry has many times proposed the Prime Minister to solve difficulties. Specifically the ministry suggested the PM to work with high level leaders of China to require the general contractor of Cat Linh-Ha Dong project to increase resources, speed up construction progress to soon put the route into commercial operation in 2019.
The Government should require the Ministry of Planning and Investment to soon guide HCMC to organize assessment and approve of capital adjustment for Ben Thanh-Tham Luong and Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien projects, approve funds advances for the former to continue construction and make payment to contractors, the ministry suggested.
In addition the ministry proposed the Government to require localities to take more drastic actions in site clearance. Still it is unclear about individuals or agencies responsible for letting weak contractors do attend in the projects, cause the behind schedule situation and investment capital rocketing by hundreds to thousands of billions of dong.