Government steps in to rescue delayed key southern expressway project

By Doan Loan   March 22, 2019 | 03:00 am PT
Government steps in to rescue delayed key southern expressway project
The Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will connect to the existing HCMC-Trung Luong highway. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa.
The government has decided to use public money to finish the much-delayed Trung Luong - My Thuan Expressway in southern Vietnam. 

The decision to switch the build-operate-transfer (BOT) project’s source of funding from toll collection was recently announced by the Government Office to resolve the difficulties delaying the work and ensure it is completed as scheduled in 2020. 

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed the expressway needs to be completed on time to meet the inter-regional transport needs and serve the socio-economic development of the Mekong River Delta, a major agricultural hub in southern Vietnam.

Southern Tien Giang Province will now oversee the work after taking over from the Ministry of Transport. The PM instructed the locality to ensure the project breaks even in no more than 15 years so that tolls do not need to be collected after the 15th year.  

When completed, the expressway will link up with the HCMC - Trung Luong Expressway between HCMC and Tien Giang Province.

Construction of the 51-kilometer expressway that will run through five districts in Tien Giang first began in 2009, but suffered delays as one investor after another pulled out. 

In 2014 the project was approved to be built under the BOT model with supplemental funding from toll fees collected on the Ho Chi Minh-Trung Luong Expressway. 

Construction restarted in February 2015, but the work again lagged behind schedule when financers halted funding after one of the investors was implicated in criminal proceedings. 

The work is budgeted to cost VND9.67 trillion ($415.23 million). A joint venture between six investors will contribute 30 percent of the cost (VND2.8 trillion or $120.23 million) while the rest comes from bank loans.

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