Key Mekong Delta bridge set to open this weekend

By Cuu Long   May 18, 2019 | 09:26 am GMT+7
Key Mekong Delta bridge set to open this weekend
Vam Cong Bridge crosses the Hau River, a branch of the Mekong River in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long
A long-awaited bridge over the Hau River in the Mekong Delta will open to traffic on Sunday.

The Vam Cong Bridge between Dong Thap Province and Can Tho City opens after six years of construction and repairs, and will replace the 100-year-old ferry service across the river.

The $270-million, six-lane cable-stayed bridge was built by South Korea’s GS E&C with funding from that country’s official development assistance.

Its construction began in September 2013 and it was originally set to open to traffic in late 2017, but a crack four centimeters wide and two meters long was detected in one of its girders due to stress concentration, residual stress and low welding quality.

The repairs were delayed as the Cuu Long Corporation for Investment, Development and Project Management of Infrastructure (Cuu Long CIPM), the transport ministry firm overseeing the construction, blamed GS E&C for "not taking drastic enough measures" and not being "active enough."

The Korean company said it faced financial difficulties since Vietnamese authorities had not refunded value-added tax or the insurance premium it had paid.

In December last year Cuu Long CIPM said the repairs had been done with help from South Korean experts, promising the bridge would open in summer this year.

It also hired an independent local consultant, the Institute of Transport Science and Technology, and a foreign consultant, to evaluate the quality, Tran Van Thi, its CEO, said.

Vo Thanh Thong, Chairman of Can Tho, said the Vam Cong Bridge would be a key piece of infrastructure, providing a convenient link between the delta and the rest of the nation.

The bridge is the second cable-stayed bridge over the Hau River, one of two tributaries of the Mekong River in Vietnam. The first bridge, Can Tho, opened to traffic in 2009.

It is expected to help ease traffic jams at the end of holidays when people from the Mekong Delta return to work in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring industrial provinces like Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

The traffic jams would often last for hours, especially outside the ferry station.

Thong also pointed out, "The bridge will benefit farmers in the Mekong Delta as their products will be able to reach markets in HCMC much faster."

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