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HomeAsian NewsWhat's Slowing Down Vietnam’s Transport Infrastructure Initiatives? – The Diplomat

What’s Slowing Down Vietnam’s Transport Infrastructure Initiatives? – The Diplomat

Pacific Cash | Financial system | Southeast Asia

Amongst different issues, the nation’s land acquisition procedures are creaky, opaque, and troublesome to attraction.

What is Slowing Down Vietnam’s Transport Infrastructure Projects?

Folks journey previous a row of concrete pylons being constructed as a part of the metro system in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 19, 2017.

Credit score: Depositphotos

Huge plans are in movement to improve transport infrastructure all through Vietnam. A primary-of-its-kind metro line just lately opened in Hanoi, and it seems to be gaining in recognition. One other pair of metro strains have been lumbering ahead in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, together with a mega-airport growth in Lengthy Thanh which shall be accompanied by an in depth community of highway and rail connections.

A protracted-mooted thought for a high-speed rail line working over 1,500 kilometers from north to south – at a value of tens of billions of {dollars} – was additionally re-floated just lately. This locations Vietnam firmly in step with different nations within the area, similar to Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which have been investing closely in transport infrastructure. However in Vietnam prolonged delays have pushed many of those initiatives again by years, scrambling financing preparations and begging the query: what’s holding them up?

Let’s take the Ho Chi Minh Metropolis Metro Line 1, which has been funded primarily by the Japan Worldwide Cooperation Company (JICA). The venture is being overseen by the Administration Authority for City Railways (MAUR), an company underneath the HCMC authorities. In 2014, the federal government issued a report on the venture estimating the primary line can be operational by 2018. However the land acquisition has been extraordinarily gradual, they usually sailed previous that deadline. In a September 2020 publication, MAUR introduced that solely about 44 % of the required land had been handed over. It seems now the road is likely to be operational by 2023, however that would simply be pushed again.

Land acquisition has additionally severely delayed HCMC’s second metro line, a venture that has been held again by administrative, technical, and land clearance bottlenecks for over a decade. That is complicating the venture’s financing, as the unique lenders, which embrace the Asian Growth Financial institution and German state-owned lender KfW, have seen estimated prices practically double. The federal government is now suggesting the road is not going to be in service till 2030.

Issues are transferring considerably extra easily on the new mega-airport venture in Lengthy Thanh, which is predicted to deal with tens of thousands and thousands of passengers and relieve strain on close by Tan Son Nhat Worldwide Airport. With an general price ticket of round $16 billion, the airport is supposed to anchor an in depth rail and highway community in southern Vietnam and is taken into account a venture of nationwide strategic significance.  It was reported in Could 2022 that 90 % of the land wanted for the airport’s first part had been handed over, and authorities count on the venture to be operational by 2025. As with the metro initiatives, land acquisition has slowed issues down however not fairly as severely.

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On the floor, this may appear a bit shocking. Vietnam is a one-party state with a extremely centralized administrative construction. Technically, all land belongs collectively to the individuals, however is managed on their behalf by the state. A brand new land regulation handed in 2013 additional enshrined the state’s capability to get well land for financial growth functions. So why has land acquisition brought about huge delays in huge public works initiatives?

For one factor, it is vitally frequent for planners and politicians to underestimate the complexity of huge infrastructure packages, particularly after they have restricted expertise with them. The federal government of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis has by no means constructed a metro line earlier than, and MAUR, the company tasked with carrying it out, is comparatively new. However, the Airports Company of Vietnam, the state-owned airport operator, has been round for some time. So it’s not that shocking they’re higher at constructing airports than MAUR is at constructing metro strains.

However the larger problem is that Vietnam’s land regulation wants work. Though it establishes the state’s proper to amass land for socio-economic growth, the method stays opaque and exhausting to attraction. Compensation just isn’t primarily based on market pricing however is calculated by the state. The manager department of presidency – on the nationwide, provincial, or municipal degree relying on the venture – has many of the energy to set the phrases and resolve the end result of disputes. As a consequence, persons are being provided lower than the market worth and the regulation doesn’t present a transparent approach to contest these outcomes.

When the land acquisition is carried out in such a way it could go extra slowly than if there are safeguards in place to make sure a minimal degree of transparency (similar to third-party appraisers) and set up authorized mechanisms to attraction or contest the state’s will. If Vietnam needs to hurry up the tempo of a few of these initiatives – and particularly if this high-speed rail venture has any shot at being in-built our lifetime – taking an in depth take a look at the legal guidelines governing land acquisition can be a great place to start out.



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