Gov't keen to resume work on bridge along longest southern expressway

By Gia Minh   January 18, 2023 | 10:01 pm PT
Gov't keen to resume work on bridge along longest southern expressway
Phuoc Khanh Bridge, part of the Ben Luc - Long Thanh Expressway, is left half finished in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The state-run Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) has asked related units to find another contractor for a bridge project on the longest expressway in southern Vietnam after work was stalled for two years.

Writing to the Ministry of Transport recently, VEC suggested the ministry work with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the investor in the Phuoc Khanh Bridge project, to quickly approve a plan to find a new contractor for the half-finished bridge.

Phuoc Khanh Bridge is part of the Ben Luc-Long Thanh Expressway, which is under construction, to connect the provinces of Long An and Dong Nai with Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Running 57.7 kilometers long, it will be the longest expressway in southern Vietnam once completed.

The four-lane bridge runs more than three kilometers long and is nearly 22 meters wide. It crosses the Long Tau River, which is the natural border between HCMC’s Can Gio District and Dong Nai’s Nhon Trach District.

When completed, it will be the highest bridge in the country, with the space between the bridge and the water surface measuring 55 meters.

VEC signed a contract to build the bridge with a joint venture of Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui and the Transport Ministry’s CIENCO4 Group JSC in January, 2016, using official development assistance loans from JICA.

However, due to problems in allocating capital and extending the loan agreement, work on the bridge has been suspended since 2020, after more than VND2.3 trillion (US$97.65 million) had been disbursed.

The contract with the former contractor to build the bridge has already expired.

VEC says it will now cost around VND750 billion to finish the remaining work on the project.

It proposed choosing a new contractor within the first quarter so that construction could resume in late June in order to complete the bridge by January 2025.

JICA, however, has yet to approve that proposal.

Work started on the Ben Luc–Long Thanh Expressway in 2014.

The project will costs VND31 trillion, with investment loans coming from JICA, the Asian Development Bank, and the Vietnamese government.

It was initially set to be completed in five years. However, funding issues have delayed it several times.

In October last year, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue ordered the expressway to be completed in 2024.

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