HCMC will stagnate without new roads, transport minister warns

By Huu Cong   April 12, 2019 | 11:00 pm PT
HCMC will stagnate without new roads, transport minister warns
The Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway will connect to the existing HCMC-Trung Luong highway. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa.
HCMC should make haste in building new ring roads and expressways, or it cannot develop further, the transport minister says.

At a Friday meeting with the Prime Minister and HCMC leaders, Transport Minister Nguyen Van The said that as 85 percent of the city's area has been urbanized, it no longer has a driving force for development.

Therefore, a system of ring roads and expressways is urgently needed, he said.

"With the current situation, without traffic development, HCMC's growth will slow down and saturate. The city has five radial highways but they all have narrow surfaces - if we invest in expanding them it would take up much time, effort and money since the residents have settled down (in the area) for a long time," The said.

According to its plans, the city will have four ring roads. However, only one of them is being built now and it is far from being completed.

The minister said that these roads, when completed, would be a new driving force for the city's growth, as well as for the development of nearby provinces.

"Ring roads number 3 and 4 are extremely important, and if not built soon, the city's traffic will be very chaotic, vehicles would have to pass through the central area, making traffic congestion even more severe.

"If we wait until there is enough funding before doing them, then the cost for site clearance would go up to VND5-7 trillion ($220-300 million) instead of the current VND3 trillion," he noted.

HCMC also plans to have 6 expressways connecting it with neighboring provinces, but so far, the HCMC-Trung Luong and HCMC-Long Thanh expressways are the only ones completed, and both of them are already overloaded.

Of the remaining expressways, only the Ben Luc-Long Thanh Expressway is being built and scheduled for completion in late 2020 or early 2021, while the HCMC-Tay Ninh, HCMC-Chon Thanh and Bien Hoa-Vung Tau expressways are still in the research phase.

"HCMC is the largest city, with the largest population and the most severe traffic congestion in the entire country. This causes wastefulness and affects development. Ring roads and expressways are the way out for the city," minister The asserted.

The transport minister also stressed that a major city like HCMC cannot have no metro and urged relevant agencies to provide the funds soon or let the city autonomously arrange the financing so as to ensure progress of its Metro Line 1.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recognized that HCMC's traffic issue was a very urgent matter. He said the government has instructed that a separate conference be held on connecting traffic between the city and provinces in the Mekong Delta and the Southeast region to resolve issues.

Another conference on developing the southern economic region, of which Ho Chi Minh City is at the center, would also be held, he said.

In his report to the prime minister earlier in the meeting, HCMC Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong had asked the central government to disburse funds soon so the city's Metro Line 1 could be implemented on schedule. This was also needed to avoid lawsuits from the project's contractors and avoid damaging relations with Japan, he stressed.

For the immediate future, the city has asked for an advance of VND3 trillion ($129 million) for site clearance to accelerate progress on Ring Road 3.

Before the meeting, the prime minister inspected Metro Line 1's Ben Thanh and Municipal Theater stations. He asked relevant ministries to provide timely help as also adjust the project's total investment so that it can stick to its schedule for technical completion in 2020 and official operation in 2021.

HCMC's first metro line, Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien, 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.

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