|A section of National Highway 2 in northern Tuyen Quang Province is being upgraded. Next year, 30 per cent of highways across the country are scheduled to be maintained through bidding contracts. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet
HA NOI (VNS) — Competent construction companies can now bid to win road maintenance contracts this year, according to the Viet Nam Road Administration (VRA) under the Transport Ministry.
The acting general director of the VRA, Nguyen Duc Thang, said that the move would help ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Road Maintenance Fund as well as improve maintenance quality.
Previously, road maintenance activities were usually assigned to State-owned companies.
At present, local transport departments across the country are reviewing the condition of national highways running through their localities and submitting to the VRA lists of roads that are in need of maintenance in the next three years, according to Thang.
Meanwhile, the VRA is completing the necessary documents to call for bids on projects maintaining six national highways this year.
Next year, 30 per cent of highways across the country are scheduled to be maintained through bidding contracts and by 2015, the maintenance activities for all national highways would be awarded through bidding.
At present, there are nearly 18,000 kilometres of national roads across Viet Nam, of which, over 3,400 kilometres of road are over 12 years old, 9,700 kilometres over eight years old and nearly 2,600 kilometres over four years old.
Each year, about VND12 trillion (US$570 million) is needed to repair and maintain roads. However, this year, the country could manage only about VND4 trillion ($190 million) for road maintenance, and funding is expected to be reduced next year because of tightened public investment.
However, Thang said since public spending for transport construction was tightening, more investment for road maintenance would be a reasonable policy.
It was calculated that one dollar spent maintaining roads effectively could help save three dollars for transportation firms, thanks to savings in fuel, travelling time and the increased efficiency of vehicles. On the contrary, the shortage of funds for regular road maintenance could lead to degradation which could cost four times more to restore or build new roads.
Thang said that for years both central and local governments in Viet Nam did not pay proper attention to road maintenance and funding, with these activities meeting less than 50 per cent of demand.
Nguyen Xuan Lam, vice general director of Road Management for Region II, which oversees 19 national highways in northern provinces, said that they always lacked funding for road maintenance and the fund was usually prioritised for seriously degraded roads.
At localities, funding for road maintenance from local budgets met only 20-30 per cent of demand, he said. — VNS