|Crossing the Tiền River and connecting Tiền Giang and Bến Tre provinces, construction on the cable-stayed Rạch Miễu No 2 Bridge started in March. — VNA/VNS Photo Huỳnh Phúc Hậu|
MEKONG DELTA — A number of transport projects have been proposed to enhance regional linkages and boost socio-economic development in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta.
The Ministry of Transport recently sent a document to the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Finance to propose the implementation of a project to upgrade and renovate three national highways, No. 53, No.62 and 91B, in the delta with a total investment of more than VNĐ7 trillion (US$294 million), funded by a loan from the World Bank.
The Ministry of Transport has recently approved 12 component projects of the North-South Expressway project in the 2021-25 period, with a total length of 723.7 kilometres, including a 110.9km section between Cần Thơ city and Cà Mau Province.
Lâm Minh Thành, chairman of Kiên Giang Province’s People's Committee, said he has recently signed and promulgated a master plan for the province’s socio-economic infrastructure development, in which, the most important factor is traffic.
“We have determined that it is essential to improve traffic connectivity with Cần Thơ city, and An Giang and Hậu Giang provinces,” he said.
The province plans to upgrade the Lộ Tẻ - Rạch Sỏi Expressway, and the coastal corridor connecting Cà Mau Province, and the N1 Road connecting An Giang Province.
According to An Giang Province’s People's Committee, the Government has approved investment to complete the planned important highways of Cần Thơ - Cà Mau, Châu Đốc - Cần Thơ - Sóc Trăng - Trần Đề and Mỹ An - Cao Lãnh - Lộ Tẻ - Rạch Giá by 2025.
The new highways are expected to meet the development needs and raise the position of the delta region, including An Giang and the Long Xuyen Quadrangle.
Long An Province has been mobilising resources to invest in its transport infrastructure, part of the national road network development plan for the 2021-30 period, including construction of a 60km-long axis road connecting HCM City with Long An and Tiền Giang provinces.
The road, to be named National Highway 50B, will help to reduce traffic pressure on National Highway No. 1A, National Highway No. 50, N2 Highway, and the HCM City - Trung Lương Expressway, strengthen trade connections between the delta provinces and HCM City.
To reduce the current overload on the existing Rạch Miễu Bridge, Bến Tre Province began construction of the Rạch Miễu 2 Bridge in March and is expected to put it into operation in 2025.
With a total investment of nearly VNĐ5.2 trillion ($218.3 million), the Rạch Miễu 2 Bridge will be 3.8 kilometres upstream from the existing Rạch Miễu Bridge.
Bến Tre and Vĩnh Long provinces have agreed on a plan to build Đình Khao Bridge crossing Cổ Chiên River and passing through Phú Đa and Phú Bình islets in Bến Tre Province.
The bridge will have a total length of 11.31km, starting at National Highway No. 53 in Vĩnh Long and ending at the intersection with National Highway No. 57 in Bến Tre.
Reducing logistics costs
Trần Quốc Dũng, general director of Kiên Hùng Seafood Export Joint Stock Company, said the logistics costs are still relatively high in some provinces in the delta such as Cà Mau and Kiên Giang.
Transporting a 20-foot container from Kiên Giang Province to the export ports in HCM City costs around VNĐ8 million ($335), which is about 15 per cent higher than the transportation cost in other provinces such as Cần Thơ City and Tiền Giang Province.
Therefore, if the investment in highways throughout the delta is soon completed, it will not only reduce logistics costs for enterprises but also improve investment attraction in new projects and create on-the-spot jobs for thousands of labourers, Dũng said.
Bùi Ngọc Sương, former chairman of Kiên Giang Province’s People's Committee, said large cities in the southeast region such as HCM City, and Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Bình Dương and Đồng Nai provinces are overloaded by millions of migrant workers mostly from the Mekong Delta.
Meanwhile, the provinces and cities in the delta still have many industrial zones and industrial clusters with great potential, he said.
For example, Kiên Giang, Cà Mau, An Giang and Đồng Tháp provinces have industrial clusters for agro-fishery processing for export, construction material manufacturing, food processing, and rice milling. However, they have not attracted many investors yet.
“If the traffic is convenient, enterprises will definitely pour capital into the delta. Millions of workers will not have to work in other provinces," he said.
According to the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Mekong Delta has the lowest number of foreign investment projects across the country because of poor transport infrastructure, except for Long An Province because it is adjacent to HCMC.
The delta was home to 1,825 valid foreign-invested projects, with a total registered investment capital of nearly US$33.5 billion, accounting for 8.4 per cent of the total registered investment capital of the country. — VNS