The investor of Ben Luc – Long Thanh Expressway has asked for permission to extend the project’s completion deadline from 2023 to 2025.
State-owned Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC), the project investor, made the request at a Monday meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh.
The Ben Luc – Long Thanh Expressway, which will run 57.7 km between provinces of Long An in the Mekong Delta and Dong Nai, will pass through HCMC.
Once complete, it will be the longest expressway in southern Vietnam.
Work started on the VND31 trillion ($1.34 billion) plus project began in 2014 and was to be completed in five years. Funding issues have delayed it several times.
It is now nearly 80 percent complete. As per the latest plan, the project was to be completed fully and open to traffic late next year.
The VEC said it has basically sorted out all problems related to the project’s funding, but restarting it after a long delay has proven difficult because of negotiations with the contractors.
Some contractors have proposed ending their contracts and filed cases against the VEC with the Vietnam International Arbitration Center (VIAC), an independent and non-profit organization for dispute settlement.
They want compensation for costs incurred under prolonged suspension of the contract.
In addition, site clearance is not yet complete. There are still 18 households along the route who are yet to relocate as agreed.
Given such issues, the VEC has proposed adjusting the project’s completion deadline to the third quarter of 2025.
It also asked the government and related units to help it with the funding via official development loans (ODA).
In response to the request, Deputy PM Thanh has asked the Ministry of Transport to work with relevant agencies to prepare an overall plan for restarting and rescheduling the project and submit it to the government.
He has also asked authorities of localities that the expressway runs through to swiftly solve site clearance issues.
The Ben Luc-Long Thanh Expressway will run through a mangrove forest in Dong Nai Province’s Long Thanh District.
The four-lane road with two emergency lanes will allow a maximum speed of 120kph and is expected to boost connections between the Mekong Delta and the rest of the southern region.