Chinese contractor asks to further delay Hanoi's first sky train

By Doan Loan   December 10, 2017 | 10:24 pm GMT+7
Chinese contractor asks to further delay Hanoi's first sky train
Work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway, which will run over more than 13 kilometers (8 miles), started in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Unresolved loan disbursement issues from the Chinese government continue to hold back construction.

The main contractor for Hanoi's first elevated railway line running from Cat Linh to Ha Dong to the north of the city has suggested pushing back the project's deadlines to late 2018, according to the Transport Ministry.

Under the new schedule, test runs would be carried out in early September 2018, and the line would be put into full operation the following month. This would result in an 11-month delay compared to the previously proposed schedule, which would have seen test runs in October this year and a fully operational elevated railway by mid-2018.

"This is only the Chinese contractor's estimation, not an official schedule," said Nguyen Ngoc Dong, vice minister of transport. "The Transport Ministry has asked the project's management board to review its progress, and a report will be submitted to the prime minister in January 2018."

The main contractor, the state-owned China Railway Sixth Group Co., claimed delayed disbursment of $250 million in official development assistance (ODA) from China as the cause of the delay. The main contractor still owes Vietnamese contractors over VND600 billion ($26.5 million), despite already taking over $65 million from its own working capital to pay them.

In October, the project's general manager Tang Hong said he had asked the Chinese embassy to accelerate the disbursement of the missing funds, and worked with the Transport Ministry to speed up the project.

According to Dong, Vietnam has resolved all disbursement issues on its side but the necessary procedures on China's side have yet to be completed.

Currently, 95 percent of the project's construction work has been completed while 60 percent of imported equipment has arrived in Vietnam, 40 percent of which has been installed. The contractors are expected to install the signals and electronic systems and finish construction of the stations in the coming months.

Work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong elevated railway, which will run over more than 13 kilometers (8 miles), started in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. But several hurdles, including issues with the Chinese contractor, have been stalling the project for years.

The original cost estimate of $552.86 million has also ballooned to more than $868 million, including $670 million in loans from China.