HCMC wants first metro line finished in 2020

By Dat Nguyen   February 13, 2019 | 05:48 pm PT
HCMC wants first metro line finished in 2020
The HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways targets to have 80 percent of the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien metro line finished in 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Ho Chi Minh City wants its first metro line’s trial run to take place by October next year despite funding and personnel challenges.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, Deputy Chairman of the city, speaking at an event Monday, said the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) should overcome all difficulties to meet this deadline.

The city is willing to make advance payment to the Japanese contractor before getting funds from the government, the government's website baochinhphu.vn quoted him as saying.

In January MAUR had called on the city to make an advance payment of VND2.25 trillion ($97 million).

The city has obliged on four occasions since 2017, paying a total of VND3.27 trillion (over $141 million), but only receiving VND591 billion ($25.4 million) from the government so far.

Bui Xuan Cuong, director of MAUR, said 80 percent of the work would be completed this year.

The line, from Ben Thanh to Suoi Tien, faced many difficulties last year.

The project’s demand to sanction an increase in cost from VND17.4 trillion ($747.6 million) to VND47.3 trillion ($2 billion) was not approved until January.

Last November Japanese ambassador to Vietnam, Umeda Kunio, said the Japanese contractor’s unpaid bills had gone up to $100 million.

As of November last year, 50 personnel have quit the management board. Deputy director of the project’s management board Hoang Nhu Cuong has left the country to travel to the U.S. in early December without approval of the city People’s Committee.

Work started in August 2012. Only 62 percent was completed by the end of last year against a target of 65 percent.

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

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

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