The Ministry of Transport has again asked the Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Joint Stock Company (VIDIFI) to speed up construction on the delayed Hanoi–Hai Phong expressway in order to complete it by the end of 2015.

Tin Tuc (News) newspaper found that barely 80 percent of the road had been finished.

After a recent inspection, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang demanded the project complete the section between Hai Phong and Hai Duong before April 30.

VIDIFI chief executive officer Dao Van Chien said the project's bid packages EX1B, EX2 and EX4 were lagging behind schedule due to the contractors' lack of money, workers and equipment. The EX1B package, implemented by a consortium of Phuc Loc Construction Company and the Petroleum Construction and Investment Joint Stock Company, was more than two months behind schedule.

The EX2 package, undertaken by Namkwang and EX4 package by Keangnam (both from the Republic of Korea), was also progressing at a snail's pace due to the fact that both contractors owed their sub-contractors money.

Minister Thang ordered the contractors of the EX5 and EX6 packages running through Hai Duong province, who are still struggling to handle the weak foundation of the road, to have employees work through the Tet holiday. He also told the contractors to work with authorities in the five provinces that the road runs through to ensure work safety.

For the package EX4 implemented by Keangnam, the minister dictated that VIDIFI withdraw its guarantee from the Korean contractor and sign a new contract with a substitute.

For the package EX1 running through Hanoi's Gia Lam district, the ministry chief asked the consortium of Cienco 1 and Cienco 4 to make sure that they met the deadline because that would determine the speed of the whole project. Since the project had gotten several extensions, it could not be delayed any longer.

"There is not much time left, so the project owner and contractors must pull out all the stops to meet the deadline," Minister Thang said.

The Minister assigned his deputy, Deputy Minister Nguyen Hong Truong, to hold briefings about the project at least once a month to provide updates and resolve any issues.

Last July, during a supervising tour of the delayed packages, Minister Thang issued an ultimatum to the sub-contractors that if they did not improve, they would be banned from bidding for other projects in Vietnam.

The six-lane Hanoi – Hai Phong expressway runs from Hanoi's Ring Road 3 to Hai Phong's Dinh Vu Port with the speed limit of 120 km/h.

Going through Hanoi, Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Hai Phong, the project carries an investment tag of 45.5 trillion VND (2.13 billion USD). It will cut the traveling time from Hanoi to Hai Phong's seaport from the current three hours to one.-VNA