Saigon metro faces delay as experts unable to enter Vietnam

By Ha Giang   July 3, 2020 | 10:17 pm PT
Saigon metro faces delay as experts unable to enter Vietnam
Workers construct the Ben Thanh - Suoi Tien Metro Line in Ho Chi Minh City in April, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Saigon’s first metro line could face further construction delays since 100 foreign engineers working on it have been unable to enter Vietnam.

The experts work for Japanese contractor Hitachi, which is in charge of installing tracks and maintenance equipment and building trains for the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien Metro Line, the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) said on Friday.

Eighty two of them, from several countries, were scheduled to come in March to supervise the work, 18 Japanese were to have come last month with the first train for the line, but the pandemic kept both groups out.

Shipments of equipment from Italy and Germany have also been delayed as has a plan to send Vietnamese engineers to Japan for a metro operation training course.

All these could delay a planned test run on the elevated section of the line in the third quarter of this year, an MAUR spokesperson said.

MAUR director Bui Xuan Cuong recently called on the government to allow the 100 in if they test negative for the novel coronavirus in their countries. They would be quarantined for 14 days at a facility near the construction site and work online, he said further.

Saigon's metro line 1 will run 20 km, 2.6 km of it underground, and cost VND46.3 trillion ($1.96 billion). It will have 14 stations, three of them underground. The target is to complete 85 percent of the work this year so that it can begin commercial operations by the end of next year. It is currently 75 percent complete.

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