The Hanoi-Hai Phong Highway must be completed as soon as possible to reduce the burden on National Highway 5, said deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.

Construction of the 105 km expressway kicked off in 2008 under a build-operate-transfer contract and should have been completed in 2012. However, by the end of last year, only half the work had been completed.

Project investor Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Joint Stocks Company (Vidifi) attributed the delays to incapable contractors. The contractors, in turn, blamed the delay on slow land clearance.

After inspecting work on the highway on August 22, Hai, who is also head of the National Steering Committee for key transport projects, said that all possible resources should be mobilised to ensure the highway was completed by next year. These would include funding, staff and even overtime shifts.

The first 25 km of the highway, which stretches from Hai Phong City centre to provincial highway 353, is scheduled to be complete by December and the rest by the end of next year.

Land clearance was nearly complete, said Vidifi chairman Dao Van Chien. Moreover, few infrastructure works remained on construction sites in Hung Yen province's Yen My district, Hai Duong province's Thanh Ha and Gia Loc districts and Hai Phong City's Hai An district.

Over 12.174 trillion VND (580 million USD) or 68.6 percent of the contract value had been disbursed.

Construction material supply had been affected by an April rule cracking down on overloaded vehicles, as suppliers shifted from roads to waterway transportation, Chien said.

He added that foreign constructors in charge of nine out of 11 major construction packages had failed to mobilise sufficient equipment and staff. After hiring cheap Vietnamese sub-constructors, they did not supervise them adequately, thus delaying progress.-VNA