80 percent of HCMC’s first metro line to be completed in 2019

By Dat Nguyen   January 27, 2019 | 07:55 pm PT
80 percent of HCMC’s first metro line to be completed in 2019
Workers walk along the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien metro line in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa
Eighty percent of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro route will be completed this year, the agency overseeing its construction has said.

Duong Huu Hoa, director of the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railway, said at a recent meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provides funding for the project, that only 62 percent of the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien line had been completed at the end of last year against a target of 65 percent.

The reason for the shortfall was a funds shortage, he said.

The first train is expected to be delivered to Vietnam in the first quarter, Hoa added.

Last November Japan’s ambassador to Vietnam, Umeda Kunio, had said the Japanese contractor Sumitomo Corporation’s unpaid bills had risen to $100 million.

If the city failed to pay by the end of 2018, the contractor might have to stop work, Kunio had said in a letter sent to the government and the city.

The HCMC administration recently said it would make an advance payment, before getting funds from the government, to the Japanese contractor. It will be the fifth time since 2017 the city does so.

It has made payments of VND3.27 trillion ($141 million), but only received VND591 billion ($25.41 million) form the government so far.

The work on the first metro line, which began in August 2012, was expected to be finished in 2017 and become operational this year.

The line runs 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) through the districts of 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh, and Thu Duc of HCMC, and Di An District in the neighboring province of Binh Duong.

It will run underground from Ben Thanh Market for 2.6 km, past the Opera House and Ba Son Shipyard, cross the Saigon River on an elevated track that runs through District 2 and go on to Suoi Tien Park and a depot at Long Binh in District 9.

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