HCMC mulls use of local materials for metro as pandemic continues to delay imports

By Gia Minh   March 17, 2021 | 11:01 pm PT
HCMC mulls use of local materials for metro as pandemic continues to delay imports
A foreign engineer makes a gesture to let workers pull electricity cable to provide power for the metro line No.1 of HCMC at a section in Thu Duc City, February 19, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
With travel and import restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic delaying work on its first metro line, HCMC is considering using locally available materials for its construction.

Its Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) made this recommendation to the city government on Wednesday, pointing to the continuing difficulties in getting materials, equipment and experts required for the construction into the country.

MAUR said it also considers letting the construction contractor, a consortium comprising Vietnam's Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 6 (Cienco 6) and Japan's Sumitomo Corporation, acquire the equipment from countries where the pandemic is under control and travel restrictions have ceased.

Most of the materials and expert personnel required are foreign, mainly from Japan.

The line, which runs almost 20 km between Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and the Suoi Tien theme park in District 9, was 82 percent completed by the end of last year against a target of 85 percent.

MAUR has blamed it on the inability to bring in the experts and equipment since the middle of last year.

It is also calling for hiring a local subcontractor to speed up the progress and a third party to work as an independent acceptance unit with experts checking the work remotely without having to come to Vietnam.

Huynh Hong Thanh, its deputy head, told a meeting on Tuesday with a delegation led by city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong that "the target is for the entire metro line to be completed by the end of this year."

In February MAUR had said the line completion would be pushed back to 2022 from late 2021.

The work is expected to cost VND43.7 trillion ($1.89 billion).

The city plans to build eight metro lines running a total of 220 km.

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