HCM City metro lines blighted by costly incompetence
VietNamNet Bridge – Managers of two metro lines under construction in HCM City have been questioned over their massive budget overruns.
The 19.7 kilometre Metro Line 1 connecting Ben Thanh Market and Suoi Tien was originally slated to cost USD1.09bn and go into operation in 2018. However, costs have spiralled to USD2.47bn and the project is only likely to go into operation in 2020.
HCM City have cited a lack of experience for the initial budget and said the increases for the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien line were due to higher material costs and minimum wages increases. According to the authorities, these experiences would help other metro projects.
However, the 11.3km metro line that connects Ben Thanh Market and Tham Luong has also seen costs increase from USD1.3bn to USD2bn.
Le Khac Huynh, deputy head of HCM City Urban Railway Management Board reported that the budget increased because of inflation and necessary design adjusted, and the project was now two years behind schedule.
"Vietnam doesn't have experience with building metros, so we’re learning along the way. There would be unexpected factors that need adjustment and these obviously lead to higher costs," Huynh argued. "The Ministry of Transport researched and created all the plans for Metro Line 1 before transferring it to the city so we really didn't gain much experience from it."
Slow ground clearance work has also heavily affected the project. After failures to make the contracted construction site in Binh Duong Province available, Japanese contractor Sumitomo Corp demanded compensation of VND2.5bn (USD119,000) for every day work was stalled. The site was supposed to be cleared way back in 2013 but they only received the site in March 2015.