Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The trial run of the capital city’s first metro system has been postponed for the third time to next September.
The Cát Linh – Hà Đông metro route was to have had its trial run in October this year, which was the project’s third deadline. The new date marks a further delay of 11 months.
According to the latest report submitted by the Railway Project Management Unit (RPMU) to the Ministry of Transport, the new date for the trial run will be the next National Independence Day, September 2, 2018. The trial run will last for three-six months, and commercial operations will start by November 2018. The new schedule has to be approved by the Prime Minister.
The RPMU has stated that 95 per cent of the construction work has been completed.
The first, frequently cited cause for tardiness was capital disbursement, with a meagre US$10 million of the additional $250 million loan package, approved due to cost overrun, being disbursed as of 2017 September for construction and installation works.
However, the RPMU claims that for the moment, capital disbursement issues have been “resolved for the most part”.
The second reason given for the multiple delays is from the general contractor’s limited management capacity -- understaffing and lack of experience to “slow and illogical” progress at every step of the project, from design, construction, to drafting project acceptance document or documents marking completion of various project components.
This is the third time the project has missed its deadline, despite pressure from both the Transport Ministry and the public. At the beginning of 2016, the ministry ordered the general contractor to pilot run the trains in September the same year, and start commercial operations throughout the project’s entire length by the end of the year.
However, in June, seeing that this deadline couldn’t be met, the ministry set December 31 as the new “final deadline” for completion of construction and installation.
When this was also not met, therefore, in February this year, the ministry directed that trial runs start in October so that commercial operations can begin in the second quarter of 2018.
Of the initially projected investment of $552 million, $419 million (76 per cent) was to be sourced from Chinese loans, with the rest covered by the Vietnamese Government’s counterpart funding.
Construction began in 2011, but in November 2014, it was announced the project would need a total of $868 million, an increase of $300 million or 160 per cent over the initial estimate.
An additional preferential loan worth $250.62 million, negotiated three years ago, was signed between the Ministry of Finance and China Eximbank on May 11.— VNS