At a recent meeting of the Ho Chi Minh City Management Authority for Urban Railway (MAUR) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Duong Huu Hoa, Director of MAUR said that 80% of Ho Chi Minh City’s first metro route will be completed this year,
At the end of 2018, only 62% of the Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien line had been completed against a target of 65% (minimum). The reason for the shortfall was because Japanese contractors have not been paid millions of dollars in constructions funds that have been due to them, and accordingly, have slowed down construction work.
Last November Japan’s ambassador to Vietnam, Umeda Kunio, Japan’s ambassador to Vietnam held meetings with government officials and stated that the Japanese contractor, Sumitomo Corporation, had unpaid bills of $100 million USD and that they would cease work on the project at the end of 2018 unless they received payment.
In January, the HCMC administration said it would make an “advance payment” to Sumitomo before it receives funds from the national government. According to HCMC government officials the local government has paid $141 million USD in project costs to date, but has only received $25.4 million USD from the central government.
The work on the metro line, which began in August 2012, was expected to be finished in 2017, was to be tested and have certain elements refined during 2018 and then become operational this year. On the basis that 80% of the metro lines work is completed in 2019, the earliest HCMC citizens will be able to use the railway will be in 2021 or 2022, more than 5-years late and at a cost that is millions of dollars over original estimates.
The first metro-line will run 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) through the districts of 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh, and Thu Duc of HCMC, and Di An District in the neighboring province of Binh Duong. It will run underground from Ben Thanh Market for 2.6 km, past the Opera House and Ba Son Shipyard, cross the Saigon River on an elevated track that runs through District 2 and go on to Suoi Tien Park and a depot at Long Binh in District 9.