Hanoi (VNA) – The Bac Giang – Lang Son Expressway will open to traffic after two years of construction, helping shorten the travel time from Hanoi to the northern border province of Lang Son by more than three hours and spur local socio-economic development and security-defence.

Bac Giang – Lang Son Expressway to open to traffic hinh anh 1Bac Giang – Lang Son Expressway will technically open on September 29. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The Bac Giang – Lang Son BOT project has a total length of nearly 170km, including two components, namely the construction of the 64km of the highway from Km45+100 to Km108+500 and the improvement of the surface of Highway 1 from Km1+800 to Km106+500 (105km in length). The project’s total investment amounts to over 12 trillion VND and its construction was started in July 2015.

However, the remaining 30-km stretch to Lang Son city, and the Huu Nghi – Chi Lang will be a bottleneck if there is no sufficient capital for construction of this section.

Expressway constructed within only two years

The Bac Giang – Lang Son expressway project was kicked off in 2015; however, construction lagged two years behind schedule due to poor capacity of the investors. As of June 2017, completion was made to 13 percent of the volume on National Road No.1, and the investor was not able to carry out the expressway component.

After Chairman of the Urban Infrastructure Development Investment Corporation (UDIC) Nguyen Van Duong, who was head of the project’s investors, was prosecuted for organising high-tech gambling, the project came to a deadlock. Many investors were driven to the verge of bankruptcy as they had advanced a huge amount of money for the project.

In June 2017, on the basis of a report by the Ministry of Transport, the new investor of the Deo Ca Group Joint Stock Company who had been invited to join the project tabled a solution to untangle the knots in the project such as adjusting the design, arranging public service lanes, dealing with credit, dismissing contractors of poor capacity, and disbursing funds for a series of contractors. This helped “revive” those participating contractors.

With its experiences in removing bottlenecks commonly seen in the previous projects, the investor directed powerful contractors to join hands and by now, the project has been completed and the Bac Giang – Lang Son expressway opened (the Bac Giang – Chi Lang section).

Pham Minh Duc, Deputy Director General of the Bac Giang – Lang Son BOT Joint Stock Company said: “It is a miracle that the expressway was completed within only two years. There is no highway in Vietnam with construction fulfilled before five years”.

The Deo Ca Group Joint Stock Company also asked the Ministry of Transport to remove a toll station on National Road No.1 (at Km24+900) to ensure benefits of people, State and investors.

Capital needed for construction of connecting section

The Deo Ca Group Joint Stock Company expressed its determination and said it was able to accomplish the 43-kilometre Bac Giang – Huu Nghi International Border Gate (in Lang Son province) highway.

Vice Chairman of the Management Council of the firm Vu Minh Hoang said the Prime Minister had agreed to add the highway (with an initial investment of 8.7 trillion VND) to the Bac Giang – Lang Son BOT project, aiming to complete the expressway by 2020.

Laying a stress on the importance of the Bac Giang – Huu Nghi International Border Gate highway, Hoang explained that the ending point of the Bac Giang – Lang Son expressway at Km45+100 intersects National Road No.1 in Mai Sao commune, Lang Son province’s Chi Lang district, which is 43 kilometres away from the Huu Nghi International Border Gate and 30 kilometres from Lang Son city. As there is no connection with the city centre or the border gate, the expressway would look “desolate”.

After calculation, the BOT Bac Giang – Lang Son – Huu Nghi Border gate joint stock company decided to cut the investment for the Bac Giang – Lang Son BOT project by over 3 trillion VND, which would then be used for the construction of roads connecting the Huu Nghi Border Gate to Tan Thanh Border Gate and Coc Nam so as to increase the efficiency of the project.

“The completion of the Bac Giang – Lang Son project will create premise to continue implementing the Dong Dang – Tra Linh highway. Besides, the building of the Chi Lang – Border gate and Dong Dang – Tra Linh highways will shape up a life-line transport infrastructure, facilitating trade as well as create momentum for socio-economic development of the northeastern region,” Hoang said.

Mentioning capital for the Chi Lang – Huu Nghi Border Gate road, Hoang said that the investor has completed the procedures at Vietinbank. However, the bank has not finished credit approval yet, resulting in a delay in the credit contract signing.

“Vietinbank believed that borrowing limit of the BOT projects has hit the ceiling, that is why the bank has not prioritised the assessment of the project,” Hoang said.

The People’s Committee of Lang Son province has sent a document recommending the Government to direct the State Bank of Vietnam to remove credit bottlenecks so that Vietinbank can accelerate its assessment progress to arrange lending for the Chi Lang – Huu Nghi Border Gate Highway in Quarter 3 this year./.