Land handover remains a roadblock for major HCMC transport projects

By Gia Minh   March 14, 2021 | 05:04 pm PT
Land handover remains a roadblock for major HCMC transport projects
The unfinished Thu Thiem 2 Bridge over the Saigon River, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Six major transport projects in HCMC – four bridges and two roads – remain mired in land acquisition issues.

Thu Thiem 2 Bridge

One of them is the Thu Thiem 2 Bridge over the Saigon River between Districts 1 and 2. Work on the 1.4 km long, six-lane bridge began in 2015 at a cost of nearly VND3.1 trillion ($134.9 million). It was originally scheduled to be completed in 2018 but has missed several deadlines due to land acquisition difficulties in District 1.

As of last year, work on the project was 70 percent complete but construction on certain sections in District 1 continues to face delays since some of the required land belongs to the Ministry of National Defense.

City authorities have been closely working with the ministry to speed up handover of the land. The project is now set for completion in September this year.

New road to Tan Son Nhat Airport

In 2016, city authorities approved a plan to build a new road linking the streets of Tran Quoc Hoan and Cong Hoa Street to ease congestion on existing roads leading to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the country’s largest and busiest.

The Tran Quoc Hoan-Cong Hoa road, which lies to the south of Tan Son Nhat, will be 4.4 km long with width ranging between 29.5 and 48 meters. It would also have two tunnels.

Vehicles are stuck in heavy congestion on Tran Quoc Hoan Street in Tan Binh District, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.

Heavy traffic on Tran Quoc Hoan Street in Tan Binh District, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.

It was first proposed by the city transport department as a four-lane street costing VND1.4 trillion ($60.2 million). Later the city decided to add two more lanes and allocate VND4.8 trillion ($206.5 million) for the road.

Land acquisition would account for 55 percent of the project cost, construction for 36 percent and the rest for project consulting and management fees.

However, the project has so far remained on paper for several reasons, including problems related to defense land. The total area of the project passing through the land managed by the military is about 11.8 hectares.

City authorities have been urging the defense ministry to hand over the land, particularly since construction of the third terminal at the overloaded airport is to begin in October this year, most likely worsening traffic around the area.

The Tan Son Nhat airport has been serving 36 million passengers a year since 2017, well above its designed capacity of 25 million.

Hoang Hoa Tham road expansion

A project to expand Hoang Hoa Tham Street in Tan Binh District from the section passing the army barracks gate adjacent to the Tan Son Nhat airport to Cong Hoa Street was approved in 2016 at a cost of VND255 billion.

The expansion project requires the acquisition of over 4,200 square meters of land, 80 percent of which is managed by the military. Authorities in Tan Binh District are trying to speed up land acquisition in order to get the project moving forward.

According to the HCMC Management Board of Investment and Construction of Traffic Projects, the investor of the project, if the land is handed over in the third quarter, construction on the project could begin in the fourth quarter and be completed in six months.

The road expansion is expected to help improve heavy congestion around the area, especially when the airport's T3 terminal is put into operation, leading to worsening traffic due to increasing travel demand.

Bung Bridge

The unfinished Bung Bridge in HCMC, February 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.

The unfinished Bung Bridge in HCMC, February 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Minh.

Work on the 560-meter bridge on Le Trong Tan Street that connects Tan Phu and Binh Tan Districts began in 2017 with a cost of VND514 billion and was expected to finish in 20 months.

Once completed, the project was expected to reduce traffic congestion and ease pressure on Truong Chinh Street, the main axis of the city’s northwestern gateway.

However, the project has been delayed for more than three years because land handover has been very tardy.

Nam Ly and Tang Long bridges

In the newly established Thu Duc City, two key projects – the Nam Ly and Tang Long bridges – have also been delayed for many years as local authorities have not yet handed over the land to investors.

In 2016, work began on the 450 m long and 20 m wide Nam Ly Bridge on Do Xuan Hop Street in District 9 with an investment of VND857 billion. It was slated for completion in 2018, but it was just 39 percent complete in 2019. Since then, construction has ceased, waiting for the land handover to take place.

Authorities in Thu Duc City are scheduled to allocate land for the project within this year to continue construction.

Once completed, the bridge will help reduce traffic jams on Do Xuan Hop Street and also facilitate the travel of ships and boats on the Rach Chiec River.

Meanwhile, construction of the VND450 billion Tang Long Bridge spanning the Trau Trau Canal on La Xuan Oai Street in District 9 began in December 2017. It was scheduled for completion in 2019, but the project is just 30 percent complete. The project also awaits handover of the required land.

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