HCMC looks to Japanese fund for extension to first metro line

By Huu Cong   May 24, 2017 | 03:25 pm GMT+7
HCMC looks to Japanese fund for extension to first metro line
Ho Chi Minh City's first metro line is expected to complete in 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran

The city needs around $100 million to connect the still unfinished line to outlying industrial centers.

Ho Chi Minh City is looking for a grant of $100 million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to extend its first metro line to the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, the project coordinator has said.

HCMC Urban Railway Management Unit on Wednesday said it would need around $100 million to extend the line another two kilometers (1.24 miles) to a terminal in Binh Duong. From there, the line will split in two, one going further into Binh Duong and the other to Dong Nai.

The provinces, both major industrial centers, have pledged to support the construction and pay for ground clearance costs.

“The plan is still on paper but JICA has promised to consider funding the construction,” said a unit manager.

The extension will attract more passengers to the service and reduce the burden on roads, he said.

The city’s first subway line was originally designed to run 20 kilometers from Ben Thanh Market in the city center to Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9. Its total cost is estimated at $2.49 billion, more than 88 percent of which came from Japanese official development assistance, and the rest from the city’s budget.

It was initially scheduled for completion in 2018, but the deadline has been pushed back to 2020 due to site clearance delays.

HCMC officials said people might have to wait even longer as the city still owes contractors nearly $60 million due to slow disbursement from the finance ministry.

Some contractors have suggested delaying construction or even downing tools if payments are not made on time.

HCMC, the most crowded in Vietnam with around 12 million people, hopes to fix its chronic traffic congestion with nine metro, monorail and tramway projects, which are estimated to cost a staggering $13 billion.