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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Binh Loi Railway Bridge, Saigon River dredging project hits multiple hurdles

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – A major project comprising two components – Binh Loi Railway Bridge linking HCMC’s Thu Duc City and Binh Thanh District, and dredging a section of the Saigon River, from the bridge to the Ben Suc Port in the neighboring province of Binh Duong – has run into rough weather due to an unfeasible capital recovery plan.

According to the Project Management Board No. 7, the Binh Loi Railway Bridge was completed and opened to traffic on September 14, 2019 and handed over to the Vietnam Railway Corporation on January 20 this year, Tuoi Tre Online newspaper reported.

However, the Vietnam Railway Authority has yet to receive the materials from the dismantlement of the old Binh Loi Railway Bridge although the Project Management Board No. 7 has repeatedly made requests.

As for the dredging of the Saigon River section, the design has been completed but capital for the package has yet to be allocated.

Under a contract signed by the investor of the project and the Ministry of Transport, the fund for the payment of loans borrowed from Binh Duong’s budget would be sourced from the toll collection revenue from vehicles with a tonnage of over 300 tons each at An Son, Rach Bap and Ben Suc ports and running on the Saigon River from the Binh Loi Railway Bridge to the Ben Suc Port.

However, Rach Bap and Ben Suc ports have yet to be developed, while An Son Port has been built partly. The Binh Duong government has scrapped the Ben Suc Port development plan and replaced it with another port in another location.

Therefore, the financial plan of the Binh Loi Railway Bridge project is unfeasible. When completed, the project will have no revenue for, at least, two years.

As for the investment in the project, the investor has disbursed VND192 billion. It has also disbursed VND110 billion, out of the VND153 billion sourced from the HCMC’s budget for site clearance, and VND248 billion, out of the VND300 billion that the investor borrowed from Binh Duong’s budget.

However, the Binh Duong Development Investment Fund has announced that the remaining capital will not be disbursed following the State Audit of Vietnam’s audit of the Binh Duong budget. The fund has repeatedly asked the investor of the Binh Loi Railway Bridge project to pay the disbursed loans.

In addition, the bank committing to offering loans for the project, has failed to fulfill its commitment, spelling trouble for the dredging of the Saigon River section.

Therefore, the Project Management Board No. 7 proposed that the Ministry of Transport ask for the prime minister’s approval for a change of the investment model to facilitate the investor to make payments to Binh Duong.

The ministry should also direct the Vietnam Railway Authority to quickly receive the materials from the dismantlement of the old Binh Loi Railway Bridge, the board stated.

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