North-South Expressway a top priority for government in 2019

By Dat Nguyen   February 10, 2019 | 08:31 pm PT
North-South Expressway a top priority for government in 2019
The Cam Lo-La Son Expressway will connect Ho Chi Minh Highway with the nearly-complete La Son-Tuy Loan Expressway. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh
Eleven components of the North-South Expressway are among the top priority this year, the government has said.

Three of them are publicly funded and the rest will be built under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

The government’s website quoted Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The as saying the ministry, this year, planned to make use of half of the VND14 trillion ($602.78 million) raised from a bond issuance. The ministry also aims to finish acquisition of all required lands next year.

Work on two of the three public-funded sections is likely to begin in the second quarter of this year, he said.

They are the Cao Bo-Mai Son Expressway in the northern provinces of Nam Dinh and Ninh Binh and the Cam Lo-La Son Expressway in the central provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

For the My Thuan 2 Bridge, the other public project, the Ministry of Transport will select the contractors in the last quarter, The said.

For the private-funded works, his ministry would begin the bidding process next October, he said.

"We want to finish the selection of contractors this year so that work can begin next year and in 2021."

But challenges remain in attracting investors. Vietnamese regulations only allow a maximum loan interest rate of 7.72 percent for the works, lower than the current 10.5-11 percent market rates.

In a report to the National Assembly last October the ministry said this was creating difficulties for investors.

If the Ministry of Finance could amend regulations and increase the ceiling to 10.5 percent, it would help attract investment, the report said.

The 11 sections are expected to cost VND118 trillion ($5.06 billion), with VND55 trillion ($2.36 billion) to be provided by the government.

Together, they will stretch 654 kilometers as part of the 2,000-kilometer expressway from Nam Dinh near Hanoi to Vinh Long Province to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

The expressway is scheduled to be finished in 2025.

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