Opening of Hanoi’s first railway delayed by administrative obstacles

Approval of completed work, auditing and origin issues are among the reasons for the delay of the  official launch of the Chinese-funded 13.5-kilometer-long Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban rail line in Hanoi.

Opening of Hanoi’s first railway delayed by administrative obstacles

A train operates on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong urban rail line in downtown Hanoi. The project has not been completed due to delays in approvals of completed work, auditing and origin of construction materials issues

Chung met with residents of Hoan Kiem District in downtown Hanoi, who asked many questions about the long-delayed project, reported Tuoi Tre newspaper.

He said the central Government had assigned the Ministry of Transport to be the project’s investor. So far, work on the project has been delayed five times.

“In early October, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung took a survey trip, and asked the Ministry of Transport, me and the investor to review the entire project, and officially launch operations after 20 days of trial runs,” he said.

He noted the project has yet to begin commercial operations, since four major obstacles need to be resolved.

The first issue is that the State Council for Pre-Acceptance Test for Construction Works must make a safety assessment of the entire system before it begins carrying passengers. “Without this assessment, no one dares to let it run,” Chung stressed.

In order to make verification possible, the Chinese Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor, China Railway Sixth Group Co., Ltd., has been told to hand over all documents related to the origins of Chinese-standard equipment. However, the contractor has been slow in doing so, but has pledged to provide them soon.

After receiving all documents, the council would be able to conduct its assessment properly. During the past few days, the Hanoi Metro has operated the railway over five consecutive days, and after 20 days of testing the project will be evaluated, Chung noted.

“The system will then be put into operation. If everything goes smoothly, we will try to finish the job at the end of December, in line with the instructions of the Prime Minister,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, the second issue is related to auditing problems. The general contractor told Chung at a meeting earlier Friday that it would be unnecessary to audit the project. However, the city chairman expressed his strong disapproval.

“Regardless of whether it is an FDI (foreign direct investment) project, or a project funded by official development assistance (ODA) loans from any countries operating in the territory of Vietnam, they must abide by Vietnam’s laws. The State Audit of Vietnam has the complete right, and the general contractor must deliver an explanation,” Chung stressed.

The contractor must work closely with the Ministry of Transport to provide sufficient equipment, in line with its contract. Also, the contractor must carry out recommendations from auditors.

Chung said the municipal government has trained nearly 1,000 workers to operate the metro line. However, due to delays in its completion, nearly 300 people have quit.

The capital city’s first metro line, which runs from Cat Linh Station in downtown Dong Da District to the Yen Nghia Station southwest of Ha Dong District, saw its investment requirements balloon from the original estimated VND8.7 trillion to a whopping VND18 trillion (US$868 million), with VND13.8 trillion, or US$670 million, provided through loans from China.

Work on the elevated railway started in October 2011 and was initially scheduled for completion in 2013. However, several hurdles, including loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017, prevented the work from continuing for a number of years.

The elevated railway allows for a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour, though the average speed of operation is 35 kilometers per hour, with trains to run every few minutes. SGT

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