Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Transport (MoT) plans to raise US$153.8 million over the next five years for a transportation upgrade project in the Central Highlands over the next five years.
National Route No 19 will be the beneficiary of this project, mainly funded by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) loans ($150 million). The remaining $3.8 million will be provided by the State in counterpart funding.
Project preparations, already underway since last June, will continue until February 2019, and implementation will run from February 2019 to June 2022.
The project will complete the upgrade of 142km of National Route No 19, including: 16km (from Km51+152 to Km67) through Bình Định Province; 23km (from Km67 to Km90) through Gia Lai Province; 36km from Km131+300 to Km167, and 67km from Km180 to Km247. It will also construct two bypass routes 13.7km and 13-21km long in Gia Lai’s An Khê and Pleiku cities respectively.
The project is expected to help strengthen Việt Nam’s road links with neighbouring countries, considerably boost connectivity – transportation and logistics services – along the East-West corridor, from Central Highlands to central coastal provinces; and build a traffic safety corridor on National Highway 19, meeting international traffic safety standards.
Despite its importance, the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) had in 2012 rated National Route No 19, originally built during the French colonisation, at 1-2 stars – putting it in the high-risk category. Among the reasons cited for the low safety rating were insufficient width and low traffic safety awareness among ethnic minority groups.
WB advisors then proposed that this route be included in the Road Safety Project that the bank was funding. It was the main route connecting the Central Highlands region with National Route No 1 and international seaports, the advisors argued.
Measures have since been proposed to elevate the route’s safety status to at least 3 stars. However, since the Road Safety Project would soon come to an end, this proposal was shelved.
Two years later, in 2014, National Route No 19 once again was put back on the table, this time by then Deputy Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, at a conference on sustainable development in the central coastal region.
The workshop was jointly organised by the Ministry of Investment and Planning and the World Bank. The World Bank had expressed its approval of the proposal on National Route No 19.
At the transport ministry’s request, the bank’s pre-feasibility study team visited Việt Nam, conducted field trips and met with local authorities in Bình Định and Gia Lai provinces. The team concluded that the project was feasible and necessary.
Deputy PM Phạm Bình Minh, in approving the MoT’s project proposal, has asked that the use of loans for land clearance be thoroughly deliberated and decided by the Prime Minister. — VNS