PM approves funding and urges completion of Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc presents decision to allocate VND2.18 trillion (US$93.94 million) from the State budget for the project. (Photo: VNA)

Prime Minister (PM) Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked competent ministries and companies to accelerate construction of the Trung Luong – My Thuan Expressway project in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang so that it can be inaugurated in 2021.

He made the requirement while inspecting the construction progress of the expressway on September 27.

Besides assuring the scheduled progress, the expressway must be built with good quality, the Government leader ordered.

He also presented a decision approving the allocation of VND2.18 trillion VND (US$93.94 million) from the State budget to finance the cash-strapped project.

According to Mai Manh Hong, general director of the BOT Trung Luong-My Thuan JSC as owner of the VND9.6-trillion project, the PM has asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance and the government of Tien Giang to disburse the funds as soon as possible.

He added that his company has worked with three lenders – Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade, Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam and Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development – to speed up the appraisal of the project’s credit plan so that they could sign a syndicated loan contract with the project’s developers.

The project relies on three sources of capital: the investors’ equity, State capital and bank loans. It might face a shortage of capital as Vietnam Prosperity Commercial recently withdrew as a lender.

As such, bank loans for the project are likely to be cut to VND5.8 trillion compared to its initial requirement of up to VND7.08 trillion in credit.

The project is experiencing a capital shortage, as the VND3 trillion in funding provided by the project owner and contractors is now depleted. The newly approved funding from the Government is expected to fund construction works.

PM approves funding and urges completion of Trung Luong - My Thuan expressway
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc inspects the ongoing construction of the Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang on September 27. (Photo: Trung Chanh)

During his visit, the PM urged the relevant sides to work closely together so that the expressway could be opened to traffic at the end of next year, allowing commercial operations to start in April 2021, on schedule.

The four-lane expressway will be some 51 kilometers long, with 4.5 kilometers of access roads, through five outlying districts of the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

Work on the 51.1-km Trung Luong – My Thuan expressway started in 2015 under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model with an investment of 14.7 trillion VND, and was initially expected to be completed in 2018. It was under the management of the Transport Ministry before the provincial People’s Committee took over.

The four-lane 14m-wide expressway starts at the intersection of Than Cuu Nghia T-Junction and HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway and end at the intersection with National Highway 30 in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cai Be district.

Work on the project is roughly 27% complete, according to the general director.

Once completed, the expressway will shorten the travel time between HCM City and the Mekong Delta localities, bolster the socio-economic development of Mekong Delta region and reduce traffic congestion on National Highway 1.

A total of 3,292 households in 26 communes and wards of five districts and towns in Tien Giang province have to relocate to make way for the expressway.

The project was suspended in November 2018 due to difficulties in securing loans and changes in public investment policies.

In the past time, the provincial People’s Committee has worked to remove bottlenecks for the project so that it will be completed soon to serve socio-economic development of the Mekong Delta region.

Thien Tu