|Workers at the construction site for HCM City’s metro line No 1 from Bến Thành to Suối Tiên. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HCM CITY — With HCM City’s metro line No 1 from Bến Thành to Suối Tiên suffering from major cost overruns, and the National Assembly yet to sanction the additional funding, the city government has said it will try and provide the required funds to finish the work by 2020, the extended deadline.
With the deadline deferred twice from 2015 and 2018, the expected cost now is VNĐ30 trillion (US$1.34 billion) more than originally budgeted, but the National Assembly has yet to consider this and the Ministry of Planning and Investment has not granted funds from ODA loans either.
Already since 2016 the city has paid nearly VNĐ3.3 trillion ($147 million) from its coffers.
“We have already apprised the Government about the cost overrun and we are waiting for approval,” Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee, was quoted as saying by Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.
He said the city had signed a credit deal with Japan for VNĐ35 trillion ($1.52 billion) for the project and was awaiting approval from the Government to use the money.
As of the middle of last month 57 per cent of the project was completed, and the deadline for its operation remains early 2020.
Not only a public vehicle
The city informed the Government about the lack of funding a year ago but the problem has yet to be resolved.
Many experts said the work could not be stopped and the city was forced to pay, but its financial resources are limited and cannot sustain this for long.
“[The Government] should assign priority to completing the metro because it is of great significance to most transport and urban planning projects in the city.”
Ngô Viết Nam Sơn, a planning expert, said: “HCM City should realise that the Bến Thành – Suối Tiên metro route is not merely about public transportation but the development of new urban areas from downtown to Suối Tiên.”
Along the route, high-rise buildings, residential areas and urban areas would be built, he said.
“This is an opportunity to attract several hundred thousands to millions of people out to satellite cities. They will become regular customers for the metro and this will sharply reduce private vehicles and improve traffic.”
Assoc Prof Dr Hồ Thanh Phong, principal of the National University – HCM City’s International University, called for completing the work as soon as possible.
“This is a major public transport project of the city and is expected to reduce traffic congestion. If it is completed soon, it would create public satisfaction. Relevant authorities should consider providing more funding.” — VNS