Pandemic travel restrictions put the brakes on transport projects

By Dat Nguyen   September 4, 2020 | 04:43 pm PT
Pandemic travel restrictions put the brakes on transport projects
The railway of the Cat Linh - Ha Dong Metro Route in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Major transport projects continue to be delayed as foreign experts are unable to fly to Vietnam because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During a recent visit to monitor the progress of the Thang Long Bridge maintenance work in Hanoi, Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The said the delay in bringing in experts and equipment from China has caused it to fall behind schedule.

Project managers said the Chinese experts would not arrive before September 5, and could only begin work on September 20 after the two-week mandatory quarantine.

The said since the bridge has to be reopened before the end of this year, foreign experts should be sent in small groups as early as possible.

The VND270 billion ($11.7 million) project must go on and managers need to continue with other procedures instead of waiting for the experts, he added.

It is one of several transport projects to suffer delays this year due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The first metro line in Hanoi between Cat Linh and Ha Dong has seen several delays since February as Chinese experts have been unable to return to Vietnam after the Lunar New Year holidays in late January.

The Ministry of Transport has sought permission for 150 of them to enter the country, but less than 40 have arrived so far.

The metro can only begin operation after a safety evaluation is done, but consultants from the French consortium Apave-Certifier-Tricc too have not been able to come to Vietnam.

Its commercial operations might therefore not begin by year end as planned. It already missed an operational deadline in April last year.

The first metro route in Ho Chi Minh City faces a similar plight. The Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien line needs 100 experts from several countries to work on it, but only eight are scheduled to arrive this month.

The first train for the line is set to arrive in October after missing deadlines in April and the third quarter due to the lack of Japanese experts.

As Vietnam continues to battle the second wave of Covid-19, the government recently eased quarantine policies to allow more experts and businessmen to enter as part of its efforts to sustain the economy.

From September 1 foreign experts, investors, managers, and diplomats who enter the country for less than 14 days are not needed to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Meanwhile, aviation authorities have drafted plans to resume commercial flights to six Northeast and Southeast Asian destinations this month.

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