A number of key transport projects with foreign contractors were lagging behind schedule, said Duong Viet Roan, deputy director of the Transport Engineering Construction and Quality Management Bureau under the Transport Ministry.

Roan told a conference on June 6 that Chinese and the Republic of Korean constructors won seven out of eight construction and installation packages for the Noi Bai–Lao Cai Expressway project.

The construction of the 244-km expressway is started three years ago and expected to be completed late next year.

However, to date, constructors have completed 27 percent of the total work and disbursed 28.9 percent of committed investment.

Similarly, on the Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway project, the RoK constructors won five out of 10 bidding packages and Chinese won four.

But again, all construction work is 13 percent to 55 percent behind schedule. Another slow project is the HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Express, which began in June 2010, and is expected to be finished this year.

Explaining for the slow progress, Lee Sen Hoon, director of Posco E&C, a constructor for the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway project, blamed lack of progress on slow land clearance and heavy rain.

Meanwhile, general director of the Vietnam Expressway Corporation Mai Tuan Anh, a project investor, said that many foreign constructors fail to achieve their commitments due to a shortage of competent workers, equipment and finance. Francisco Favier de Bonifaz, lead consultant from Gentisa Construction Supervisory and Constancy, said it is unreasonable to blame weather conditions as constructors should have studied and considered this factor.

He said that the project is slow because constructors signed agreements with too many sub-constructors, leading to difficulties in making progress.

Speaking at the conference, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said that constructors who fail to ensure the quality and speed of projects will be penalised under the signed contracts.

"As a developing country, Vietnam has huge demand for infrastructure development," Thang said, adding that constructors with poor performance will get few chances in future.

Early this week, Hanoi People's Committee Vice Chairman Nguyen Van Khoi called for more co-ordination among relevant agencies to speed up three key transport projects in the city. They are the Nhat Tan Bridge Project, the road to link the bridge and Noi Bai Airport , and the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway.

Land clearance and compensation for residents in affected areas are still considered major bottlenecks to completing work on time.-VNA