Saigon forced to dig deep after Vietnam gov't fails to pay for new metro line

By Huu Cong   July 28, 2017 | 04:06 pm GMT+7
Saigon forced to dig deep after Vietnam gov't fails to pay for new metro line
Lack of fund is threatening to further delay Saigon's first metro line. Photo by VnExpress/Duy Tran

Red tape has continued to stall the completion of the city's first metro line.

Saigon’s mayor has ordered its finance department to fork out VND500 billion ($22 million) to pay contractors working on a metro line who have not been paid by the government for a month.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, the chairman of the city's People's Committee, has called on the authorities to ensure that construction of the city’s first metro line remains on schedule no matter what the cost.

Instead of waiting for the government to pay up, the city has decided to take matters into its own hands.

About two thirds of the line has been completed, which will run between Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Suoi Tien Theme Park in District 9.

The rest has been held up by a severe lack of funding, and the contractors are clamoring for payment, the project managers said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last month promised to send extra official development assistance, but that has not materialized.

Project managers said they are going to need more than VND5.4 trillion ($237.6 million) this year, but the government has only released VND2.1 trillion.

The city has already spent around VND900 billion in advance to pay contractors and workers.

The subway line was designed with an estimated cost of $2.49 billion, and more than 88 percent should have been paid for by Japanese official development assistance.

After several delays, a new completion date has been set for 2020.