|Standing Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh listens to the leader of Ben Tre province proposing to build a bridge to replace Binh Tan Ferry, Thoi Binh commune, Binh Dai district. This is a point on the coastal corridor route connecting with Tien Giang province. Photo: VGP/Manh Hung |
Nguyen Truc Nhan, Vice Chairman of Ben Tre People’s Committee, told VIR that the province is proposing an investment into a coastal road connecting the Mekong Delta region with Ho Chi Minh City. The province is now preparing necessary documents to seek the government’s approval for the road.
The section crossing the region is 700km long, of which 52.5km are in Ben Tre. The road is slated to be developed within the next five years. However, as this would be a brand new and large coastal route in the Mekong Delta, the development needs to mobilise various resources. The province intends to call for public investment and mobilise resources from the society to jointly develop the project.
Nhan said that this new coastal road will significantly reduce the commuting distance between Ben Tre and Ho Chi Minh City to 50km instead of 90km via the National Highway No.1A. Once completed, the road will open opportunities for coastal economic development by reorganising new industries such as urban construction, tourism, aquaculture, manufacturing, and processing. There is also a synchronous plan to create space for a land fund, employment, and climate change response.
Likewise, Long An province is focusing on completing the procedures to carry out the construction of a number of important traffic projects in the area. In the next five years, the province will focus on investing in the construction and expansion of many important transport projects connecting the province and other localities in the region. Long An will mobilise about VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion), including more than VND18 trillion ($782 million) from the central government as well as local budgets, with the rest of nearly VND12 billion ($521 million) coming from other sources on infrastructure development.
According to Nguyen Hoai Trung, deputy director of Long An Department of Transport, once these projects are in operation they will smoothly connect industrial zones and clusters of the province to Long An International Port, Ho Chi Minh City, and neighbouring provinces.
“Additionally, these projects will contribute to creating favourable conditions for people and businesses to travel and transport goods, promoting the socioeconomic development of the locality,” he added.
Meanwhile, Can Tho city gives priority to eight key projects in the 2021-2025 period including the ring road to the west of the city connecting the National Highway No.91 and the National Highway No.61C; four provincial roads; and two bridges. The total investment capital is estimated at VND7.5 trillion ($325.2 million).
Can Tho has proposed the government to prioritise investment of key projects connecting the region such as My Thuan-Can Tho Expressway and Can Tho-Kien Giang Highway. Also, the city will implement transport routes and public passenger transport terminals to increase the carrying rate to 10 per cent by 2025 and 20-30 per cent by 2030, boosting the interprovincial connection between Can Tho and its neighbouring provinces.
The Mekong Delta region contributes 50 per cent of the rice crop, 65 per cent of aquaculture, 70 per cent of fruit, 95 per cent of exported rice, and 60 per cent of exported fish of the whole country. With its suitable location, it offers convenient trade opportunities with other ASEAN countries and the Greater Mekong Subregion. However, the connection with Ho Chi Minh City and overseas remains one of the tightest bottlenecks of the region’s development.
The Annual Mekong Delta Economic Report 2020 by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Fulbright University showed that the investment demand in the region for all types of basic transport infrastructure such as roads, waterways, aviation, and even railway is huge. However, development in the last 10 years has been modest.
Many businesses have voiced their concerns about traffic congestion from the Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City. Lack of well-aligned planning and poor logistics also led to cost increase in all stages of the production value chain, reducing the competitiveness of businesses and the regional economy.
Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The said that the ministry will focus on some breakthrough projects in the coming time, such as the expressway connecting Can Tho and Ca Mau in the form of a public-private partnership.
The ministry will also make investments in expressways from Chau Doc district to Long Xuyen city of An Giang province with the total investment of the first phase project estimated at VND23.62 trillion ($1 billion).
To support the sustainable development in the Mekong Delta, the ministry has proposed the planning of Tran De Deepwater Seaport in Soc Trang province, capable of receiving vessels of up to 100,000 tonnes. The port is expected to achieve a throughput capacity of 50-55 million tonnes by 2030. When being put into operation, products in the region will not need to be shipped to Ho Chi Minh City for export. The total capital for the plan’s implementation is estimated at VND50.51 trillion (2.2 billion), with investment expected to come from private investors, not the state budget.
“At present, the Mekong Delta is at a great risk amid climate change. Therefore, the government directs the road transport sector to prioritise infrastructure investments in the region. The efforts will also create a premise for the region to change its economic structure, gearing towards sustainable development,” Minister The said.
Currently, his ministry has prepared nearly new investment projects across all kinds of transportation with the total capital of $5.14 billion for the delta.
Generally, Vietnam is seeking international loans worth around $2 billion from the World Bank, France, and Germany to support the development of the Mekong Delta’s infrastructure, including coastal roads like the one Ben Tre is proposing.
Carolyn Turk, World Bank country director for Vietnam said, “In partnership with government authorities at all levels, innovative pilots and large infrastructure investments have been implemented to bolster climate resilience, natural resources management, and sustainability while fostering growth for people, rural areas, cities, provinces and the region. Importantly, new perspectives, new evidence, new knowledge, and relevant international experiences and expertise have been brought to the Mekong Delta for addressing its very complex challenges.”