The Ho Chi Minh City government has asked the Vietnam central government for an additional $800 million USD for the city’s metro line #2 project which is slated to run for 12 kilometers from Tham Luong to Ben Thanh. At the same time, the city has also asked the central government to allow it to delay the project till 2024.
The project was approved in 2010 and was expected to cost $1.4 billion USD with completion expected at the end of 2020. Currently the project is expected to incur cost increases during its building phase that will raise the project costs to $2.1 billion USD.
The Ben Thanh – Tham Luong line will go from the new urban area of Thu Thiem in District 2 and end in An Suong in District 12. The route will include nine underground stations and one elevated station and will be served by a fleet of 10 three-car trains, which will be maintained at a new depot at Tham Luong. It is forecast that by 2025, the route will handle 480,000 passengers a day.
The city’s plans for metro line #1 are also in limbo as funds that have been approved for payment have not been made and contractors have delayed work on the line pending receipt of overdue payments. Metro line #1 was originally expected to begin operations by 2018 but the current estimate is that operations will begin in 2021 or 2022.
It is estimated that HCMC’s population has increased from 8 million to 13 million people, since 2010 and the city’s residents are experiencing increased traffic jams and roadway maintenance problems as more than 1 million new motorbike licenses have been issued during this time. As of May 2017, the city estimated that there were 7.6 million motorbikes and 700,000 cars in the city, with an additional 850 motorbikes and 180 cars hitting the roads every day. HCMC is now ranked as Southeast Asia’s ninth most congested city and is the only megacity without an active metro system.
By 2020 it’s estimated that HCMC will have a population of 15 million so problems that are experienced today will become worse in the future. HCMC city planners are now being forced to look at new areas like Thu Thiem, which is expected to have 150,000 residents and a daily worker force population of 220,000 ~ 250,000 people come to the area each day and pondering whether they should slow down construction in the area due to the delays in metro line #2 or allow construction to continue at its current pace and simply accept the fact that the majority of workers will come to the area on motorbikes rather than taking the metro as had originally been planned.
While the HCMC government works on the problems associated with the metro line delays, residents of HCMC wonder how the city will survive the metro delays and increases in traffic at the same time and wonder if open streets with traffic that flows easily are memories of the past.