|The Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban railway project is being funded by China's Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam
HA NOI (VNS) — National railway projects worth billions of US dollars, which have been assigned to the Viet Nam Railway Authority and Viet Nam Railways, will be backed by the Ministry of Transport.
Under Decision 3092/QD-BGTVT signed by Minister Dinh La Thang, the 18 projects, which are mostly funded by official development assistance (ODA) from Japan and China, will be directly managed by the ministry.
The State-owned operator of the railways system, Viet Nam Railways, has 13 projects – seven are under construction and six are being prepared for investment.The projects are worth thousands of billions of dong.
List of on-going projects to be handed to the Ministry of Transport
* Viet Nam Railways.
-Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1) Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi (phase 1, 2);
- Project to enhance safety of railway bridges on the Ha Noi-HCM City Railway Route (phase 1);
- Project to upgrade the Yen Vien-Lao Cai Railway Route;
- Project to modernise the information and signals system of the Vinh-HCM City Railway Route (first phase);
- Project to modernise the information and signals system of the Ha Noi-Lao Cai, Ha Noi-Dong Dang, Ha Noi-Thai Nguyen Railway Routes (first phase);
- Project to modernise the information and signals system of the Ha Noi-Vinh Railway Route (phase 2);
* Viet Nam Railway Authority.
- Urban Railway Construction Project Cat Linh-Ha Dong;
- Project to construct the Yen Vien-Cai Lan Railway Route.
Notable projects that are being taken over by the ministry include the Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1) Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi. Investment for the first phase will be worth VND19.5 trillion (US$928.5 million) and the remainder of the second phase, worth VND24.8 trillion ($1.1 billion)
Another Viet Nam Railways' project that will be handed to the ministry is one to upgrade the Ha Noi-Lao Cai railway route at a cost of about VND5.7 trillion ($274.2 million).
Of the five projects currently under the management of the Viet Nam Railway Authority, two are under construction and three are in investment preparation process.
The transport minister has also told all project management boards of Viet Nam Railways and the Viet Nam Railway Authority to merge into one under the ministry.
Local media highlighted the developments, saying that they had been decided soon after the discovery of "suspected bribery" at the Japanese ODA-funded Ha Noi City Urban Railway Construction Project (Line 1) Yen Vien-Ngoc Hoi.
Also possibly linked to the possible scandal is the suspected increase in costs for China's ODA-funded Urban Railway Construction Project from Cat Linh to Ha Dong from $552 million to $891 million.
Both cases came to light earlier this year and several senior officials from both Viet Nam Railway and Viet Nam Railway Authority have been suspended.
Denying the connection between the scandal and the ministry's move, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said that the change of project investor was "just a step in the ministry's restructuring routine".
"By doing this, Viet Nam Railways will be able to concentrate on the privatisation process and focus more on operating and maintaining the railway infrastructure system," Dong said.
"When the projects have the ministry as the investor, all management experiences at ministry level will be utilised and it will be more convenient working with foreign partners," he added.
The Transport Engineering Construction and Quality Management Bureau under the ministry will be in charge in consulting for bids. — VNS