The Saigon Times Weekly

Adequate traffic infrastruc­ture for Mekong Delta

- Quynh Thu

The Government has announced its plan to prioritize investment in the high-speed railway between HCMC and Can Tho City, raising hope for better traffic infrastruc­ture in the Mekong Delta region. The HCMC-Can Tho railway is set to span nearly 135 kilometers through five cities and provinces: HCMC, Long An, Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Can Tho. Passenger trains would be allowed to run at a maximum speed of 190kph and freight trains at 120kph. The project requires an estimated investment of nearly US$10 billion.

This high-speed rail line is expected to help satisfy the transporta­tion infrastruc­ture needs of the local residents and businesses in HCMC and the Mekong Delta region.

Currently, the inadequate traffic infrastruc­ture between HCMC and the Mekong Delta region, one of the crucial economic areas, leads to high logistics costs and hampers Vietnam’s exports. For example, logistics expenses alone amount to 25% to 30% of total costs in the seafood sector.

Many experts believe that transporta­tion needs to be streamline­d first to create new momentum for economic developmen­t in the Mekong Delta region. Phan Van Mai, chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, once said it is time to change the approach to address transporta­tion issues in the country.

There used to be a railway connecting Saigon and My Tho City in the southern province of Tien

Giang, with a total length of over 70 kilometers. The railway was built by the French in four years in the late 19th century and ceased operation in 1958. Vietnam could learn a lot from this French railway project.

The first lesson is to do what is needed. The railway was an arterial road connecting the two key economic zones and the first to be built in Vietnam and Indochina. The second is to strive to fulfill the task as the railway’s constructi­on required a huge workforce, up to 11,000 people, and encountere­d numerous transporta­tion-related difficulti­es.

The Mekong Delta region has long been notorious for its inadequate transporta­tion infrastruc­ture. Although the Mekong Delta occupies over 13% of the national territory and contribute­s 54% of the national rice output, the length of expressway­s in this vital region is insufficie­nt compared to other areas in the country.

The HCMC-Can Tho railway can perhaps change the bad reputation of this region.

The Government has written to the National Assembly seeking to allocate around VND400 trillion for traffic infrastruc­ture this term, three to four times higher than in the previous term. Whether the investment for the Mekong Delta region increases remains unknown, yet the local people are hopeful of an improvemen­t in traffic infrastruc­ture.

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