An elevated section of HCM City’s Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line runs along the Hanoi Highway. (Source: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Progress on the first metro line in Ho Chi Minh City continues, but a tax dispute has left some necessary equipment languishing at port, Le Nguyen Minh Quang, head of the HCM City Management Authority for Urban Railways told a press briefing recently.

The elevated sections of the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line from Ba Son terminal to Long Binh maintenance depot will install tracks next month, Quang said, adding nearly 70 percent of the metro’s elevated sections have been completed.

He added that the installation of tracks would be carried out on the completed sections simultaneously with the building of the uncompleted ones.

Equipment used for metro track installation, however, is now “stuck” at port, he added.

He said that previously the Ministry of Finance had announced a zero percent tax rate on imported equipment and goods used for the construction of the metro, but recently it has reconsidered this tax policy, so a new shipment of equipment remains in its port of entry.

“The HCM City People’s Committee has worked with the city’s Customs Department and the General Department of Customs to find a solution to the problem so that the construction schedule will stay on track,” he said.

According to Duong Huu Hoa, Director of the Metro Line 1 project, Japanese contractors are working on the train for the city’s first metro line and will send it to Vietnam by October next year for early testing.

He said he has sought the opinions of foreign experts on the construction of the Dien Bien Phu flyover, one of the five of its kind on the metro route, to minimize the impact on traffic.

The other four overpasses are being built above the Hanoi Highway, the Saigon River, the Rach Chiec Canal and Van Thanh Canal.

Regarding the shortage of ODA capital for the metro, Quang said last month that the city had to withdraw 500 billion VND (22 million USD) from its budget to pay debts to contractors, but that this could not be considered a long-term solution.

“This is just a temporary solution as in reality the city needs 500 billion-600 billion VND a month to pay the contractors,” he said.

The city is looking forward to receiving ODA capital from the central budget in the medium term from 2016 to 2020 to pay for consulting companies and contractors this year, he said.

The Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro, whose construction began in August 2012, is valued at 2.49 billion USD. The nearly 20-km metro is expected to be operational in 2020.-VNA