New motorways to cut travel times

January 06, 2014 | 10:47
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Travel between Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces is becoming faster and more efficient thanks to the extension of motorways in the region.

Journey times in the country’s key southern economic zone are being drastically cut by new roads

On January 2, Vietnam Expressway Corporation  (VEC) opened the first section of the 55-kilometre Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay motorway.

The entire route will cost VND20.6 trillion ($982.3 million) and is set for completion by late 2015 to help reduce traffic accidents and congestion at the gateways to both Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Nai province.

The 22 kilometre highway between Ho Chi Minh City and Long Thanh in Dong Nai cuts travel times from an hour to just 20 minutes, greatly reducing the journey to Vung Tau, the south’s oil and gas hub.

The motorway is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. After inspectors discovered poor quality concrete had been used for the foundations for some support poles on the guardrail along a section in package 3 of the route, VEC was ordered to delay the opening of the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh section until January 2 to fix the problem by the Ministry of Transport.

Three companies and 11 individuals, including foreigners, were disciplined for the infringement, while VEC also issued warnings to the contractor – Korean company POSCO E&C.

Sang Hoon-lee, manager of package 3, was rebuked and Cho Yang-cook, construction manager for the section, was suspended. The team in charge of building the poor quality guardrail was removed from the project and will be prohibited from participating in future VEC projects. VEC also censured the project’s supervisor and consultant – a joint venture between Japan’s Nippon Koei and Vietnam’s TEDI South.

Connecting to the Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay section will be the Dau Giay-Phan Thiet motorway, Vietnam’s first infrastructure project to be implemented under the public-private-partnership (PPP) format. Work on the $750 million road is set to begin in the third quarter of 2015. Once in place, the new road will cut the Dau Giay-Phan Thiet distance of 130 km on the National Highway 1 down to 100km.

Meanwhile, for travel to the Mekong Delta, the Ho Chi Minh City-Trung Luong motorway which has been in use since 2010, is 20km shorter than the National Highway 1, which frequently sees heavy traffic. The Trung Luong end will soon be connected to the 54-km Trung Luong-My Thuan motorway to further cut down travel times between Ho Chi Minh City and Tien Giang province.

The Cuu Long Corporation for Investment, Development and Project Management of Infrastructure, or Cuu Long CIPM, has asked the Ministry of Transport to bring forward the construction date for the project and to change the investment model.

According to Cuu Long CIPM, two investors interested in the project want to build the Trung Luong-Cai Lay section under the build-operate-transfer model. Cuu Long CIPM has proposed that the remaining section between Cai Lay and My Thuan use official development assistance loans instead.

Last August, the Ministry of Transport asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to add the Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway to the list of PPP projects.

By By Tuong Thuy

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