10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays

By Quynh Tran   July 29, 2019 | 03:04 pm GMT+7

A VND10 trillion ($431 million) expressway connecting Saigon with the Mekong Delta has been badly delayed and could be dogged by more trouble.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays

The Trung Luong - My Thuan Expressway will be 51 km long and pass through five districts in Tien Giang Province in the delta. A key project meant to ease the load on National Highway 1A, it was envisaged as one of the key routes connecting the southwest with Ho Chi Minh City and the key southern economic region.

Its first section, to link up with the HCMC- Trung Luong Expressway in Chau Thanh District, Tien Giang Province, has yet to be cemented (top right).

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 1

But 10 years after construction began it still has not been finished. An elevated 500-meter section remains a bare concrete block where work has stalled. The project has gone through several investor changes, cost amendments and deadline extensions.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 2

It cannot be connected with the HCMC - Trung Luong Expressway in its current state. Construction of this section began in 2015, and has been suspended for nearly a month now.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 3

In other sections, the only work done is land acquisition and road surface preparation. 

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 4

In one section over the Cho Bung canal in Chau Thanh District several piers have been erected.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 5

Work on the section running through Tan Phuoc, a district in Tien Giang Province, is still in progress. Its construction is expected to be finished next year.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 6

Along the expressway, many tunnels like this are still under construction with sand, soil and building materials lying around.

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At the end of the expressway in Cai Be District is another dirt road surrounded by rice fields.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 8

Nguyen Tuan Hai, a construction worker, said people here are working with uncertainty and do not know when the work is going to be halted.

A spokesperson for the construction unit told VnExpress that the investor, the Trung Luong - My Thuan BOT JSC, has not paid for the work for the last three months, and contractors are thus unable to pay their workers or buy construction materials.

10-year delayed expressway likely to see more delays - 9

A banner hangs at a construction site on July 23 demanding that the investor should pay the contractor. But according to the investor, if funds cannot be raised like initially planned, it is very likely the construction would be halted by the end of August. 

Tien Giang Province authorities are set to meet Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to report the reasons for the tardy work.

Started in November 2009, the Trung Luong - My Thuan Expressway, invested by BIDV Highway Development Joint Stock Company, was estimated to cost VND14 trillion ($603 million). It was expected to be completed in 2013. But in 2012, the investor declined to continue the project, leading it to be in delay for three years.

It was supposed to resume in 2015 under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract and scheduled to complete in 2018 but the work did not start until 2017. At this point the cost was reduced to VND9.67 trillion ($416 million) and a new deadline set for 2020 year-end. BOT Trung Luong - My Thuan Joint Stock Company is the investor now.

After a decade of delays, only 22 percent of the project's construction work has been complete.

 
 
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