Saigon’s Mayor says metro construction might stop

Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City issued a warning that the construction of Saigon’s Metro Line 1 could stop if two ministries do not respond to the city’s proposal to increase its investment. 

Nguyen said at a recent meeting that the city has proposed that it increase investment in Metro Lines 1 and 2 due to rising costs, and needs to complete documents for submission to the municipal People’s Council by October 21. However both the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Finance have not provided any feedback on the proposal

If the administrative work and ministry approvals are not received within the next 30 ~ 60 days, contractors who have not been paid are likely to stop work on Metro Line 1 and this could result in legal issues. Nguyen added that Metro Line 2 could also lose its funding as a result.

Nguyen also said that the ongoing delays in the two metro lines have the ability to create negative impressions of the efficiency of Vietnamese government organizations and their ability to implement large-scale projects. Additionally, delays can a create difficulties in the relationships between various Vietnamese government entities and the countries that have provided official development assistance (ODA) loans for the projects and lower Vietnam’s ability to acquire loans for other projects.

Metro Line 1, which will also be known as the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro, has a planned route of nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles) and will transit through the city’s 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc districts, and neighboring Binh Duong Province’s Di An District. Construction of the line is considered 67% complete, and the line is supposed to start running in 2021, although any delays could set the project back to 2022 or 2023.

Metro Line 1 project was first approved in 2007 at a cost of $750 million. However after project reviews, construction design changes, and delays in the start date of construction, the costs skyrocketed and in 2010, a proposal was made to increase the project investment to $2 billion USD. The city submitted its proposal to the relevant ministries, but to date, the proposal has not been approved.

Metro Line 2, which will be known as the Ben Thanh-Tham Luong metro, has also seen its cost estimates increase due to changes, delays and inaction and the original cost of $1.1 billion USD has now been increase to $2 billion USD. As with Metro Line 1, multiple delays have pushed the projected completion date from 2024 to 2026 or later.