Saigon metro lines see completion dates pushed back, again

By Huu Cong   September 3, 2019 | 06:55 pm PT
Saigon metro lines see completion dates pushed back, again
An underground section of HCMC's first metro line, November 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
HCMC's first two metro routes will be delayed yet again, a recent progress evaluation report submitted by the city transport department indicates.

The Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line, previously scheduled for a late 2020 deadline, can begin operation no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2021.

The Ben Thanh to Tham Luong line has been pushed back from 2024 to 2026.

The first one has been delayed because the Ministry of Construction has yet to comment on the project's design adjustments while the city Department of Planning and Investment has not completed papers on funding appraisal.

The second route is delayed since procedures to adjust its cost are unfinished after more than two years. This has also caused the bidding for the project contractor to be put on hold.

Line number 1, which will run nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles), was first approved in 2007 at a cost of VND17.4 trillion ($750 million). Changes were made to the design and cost in 2010, and the latter increased to VND47 trillion.

Work started in August 2012 and it is currently 68 percent completed.

The 11.3-kilometer second line also saw cost balloon from VND26 trillion to VND48 trillion. While work was supposed to start in 2014 and be completed in 2018, only its operating center has been built thus far.

Both projects are also suffering from lack of funding.

The government has tasked the city People's Committee with working with central authorities to finalize documents for amending the costs, and this remains unfinished.

HCMC, home to 13 million people including migrants, has been struggling for years with worsening traffic congestion.

There are 7.6 million motorbikes and 700,000 cars on the roads, and public transport is woefully inadequate.

The city has expected to develop a series of metro lines to fix the problem.

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