|Model of Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province.
by Compiled by Le Hung Vong
The Ministry of Transport swears by Long Thanh Airport, saying it is the optimal facility to replace Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCM City when the latter reaches full capacity by 2020.
Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu dismissed a suggestion by two aviation experts to scrap Long Thanh and instead expand Tan Son Nhat (to the north), saying the expansion is "infeasible."
Le Trong Sanh, ex-head of international flight management at Tan Son Nhat, and Mai Trong Tuan, a former Viet Nam Airlines pilot, said an expanded Tan Son Nhat can handle the increasing number of international passengers.
"It is impossible because Tan Son Nhat is located in a densely populated area surrounded by the main streets of HCM City," deputy minister Tieu said in a report also sent to the Cabinet.
"The expansion plan will affect the environment in downtown areas by causing noise and emission levels to exceed acceptable levels."
According to Japan Airport Consultants Inc. (JAC), Tan Son Nhat Airport will reach its peak capacity of 20-25 million passengers between 2018 and 2020 and be overloaded after that.
The cost of expanding Tan Son Nhat was estimated at $9.15 billion besides $16.1 billion for site clearance and relocating some 140,000 people living in the districts of Phu Nhuan, Tan Binh, and Go Vap.
The plan to build Long Thanh International Airport was mooted in 2005, and construction is expected to be completed within the next decade.
The 5,000ha airport, 43km from Tan Son Nhat, will ultimately have a capacity of 100 million passengers and five million tonnes of cargo a year, and can handle Airbus A380 and other similar sized aircraft.
JAC, the consultant to the project, has estimated Long Thanh Airport to cost US$7.8 billion, including $730 million for acquiring land and relocating thousands of households in the area.
Foreign investors keen on expressway to Phan Thiet
At least 15 foreign investors will attend a preliminary screening meeting to build the Dau Giay-Phan Thiet expressway on September 19.
According to the Ministry of Transport's public-private partnership (PPP) department, around 100 foreign investors have shown keen interest in building the highway following a series of road shows launched in Asian nations at the end of July, and 15 of them have already evinced interest in attending the preliminary meeting.
One international investor will be chosen along with local firm Bitexco Group, who has been chosen as the primary builder.
Bidding to select the second investor will be held between the fourth quarters of 2013 and 2014.
The Dau Giay-Phan Thiet expressway will be the first highway in Viet Nam to be funded by private and State funds under the PPP mode, with the Government's expenditure estimated at $257 million.
According to Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong, it will serve as a trial for other infrastructure projects to be carried out under the PPP model in future.
Bitexco Group will bring in up to 60 per cent of the total cost of around $750 million, and the other investor the rest.
The 98km expressway will connect the under-construction HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway with National Highway No 1A in Binh Thuan Province.
It will help reduce the travelling time between HCM City and the south-central region, and also ease the congestion on National Highway No 1A.
Provinces unhappy with tardy foreign projects
Provincial authorities around the country have complained about the slow progress made by some huge foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in recent years.
Quang Ninh is unhappy that the $550 million, 125ha Ha Long Star resort in Bai Chay has come to a standstill after a glitzy ground-breaking ceremony in 2007.
Doan Huy Hau, deputy chairman of the Quang Ninh People's Committee, blamed it on the global economic turmoil and the transfer of the project's ownership.
Another project, this one a golf course, five-star hotel, and resort in Van Don by a joint venture company, licensed in 2007, has failed to get off because of problems with site clearance, he said.
In Hai Phong, some large FDI projects like the one to develop the Hai Phong International Container Port; the Do Son Industrial Park Project; and the Tham Viet Investment Complex Project have faced the same situation.
According to Dan Duc Hiep, deputy chairman of the city People's Committee, the Tham Viet Complex developer has brought in $22.8 million, or 13 per cent of the total capital for the project, which was licensed in 2008.
"The complex has yet to find a tenant," Hiep told VIR newspaper.
City authorities have urged the investor to speed up infrastructure work in the complex to attract companies who are in hi-tech, environmentally safe sectors.
Dong Nai Province authorities have also complained about long-delayed FDI projects.
No funds have been brought in by Sun Steel Co for its $200 million project licensed in 1966.
Nguyen Phuong Lan, deputy head of the Dong Nai Industrial Park Authority, said the investor has not made any effort to go ahead with the project.
"The Dong Nai IP Authority will soon meet with the investor and reconsider the feasibility of the project," he said.
Provincial authorities will also meet with executives of Amata Power Ltd., which was licensed in 1996 to generate and supply electricity to IPs in the province. The company has disbursed only 10 per cent of its registered capital of $110 million.
But many major foreign projects have been operating efficiently in Dong Nai, providing jobs and contributing significantly to public revenue, Lan said. — VNS