Hanoi (VNA) - Although trillions of VND sourced from Government bonds was earmarked, 15 years after the start of its construction, the Yen Vien – Pha Lai – Ha Long – Cai Lan railway project remains uncompleted.

Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, where the rail line is set to traverse, repeatedly asked for this project to be resumed and completed as soon as possible, or the ground previously prepared for construction to be returned to local residents if it is cancelled.

Trillions of VND lies idle, residents live in uncertainty due to railway project

The Yen Vien – Pha Lai – Ha Long – Cai Lan railway project, approved by the Prime Minister in Document No. 75/CP-CN dated January 9, 2004, will have a total length of 131km, including 43km of new rail tracks and 88km of upgraded existing tracks, from Yen Vien Station in Hanoi to Cai Lan Terminal in Quang Ninh province. This project is divided into four sub-projects and had its construction started in 2005.

The project has the total investment of 7.665 trillion VND funded by Government bonds. When the route is put into operation, trains from Yen Vien will no longer have to transit in Kep Station of Bac Giang province before moving to Ha Long, which takes 7.5 hours, like at present. Instead, the travel time between Yen Vien and Ha Long will be cut down to 1.5 – 2 hours for passenger trains and 3 – 4 hours for cargo trains.

This project was initially expected to be completed in 2011, but it remains unfinished and has been suspended under the Government’s Resolution No. 11/2011/NQ-CP on public investment reduction. Many of its items like construction materials and equipment worth hundreds of billions of VND have stayed idle for years but they are also unable to be liquidated to recover money for the State budget as the project has not been completed yet.

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In a document sent to the Ministry of Transport, voters in Quang Ninh province said the project, which has been left unfinished and lagged behind schedule for many years, has caused land wastefulness, affected local socio-economic development and led to multiple problems for residents in the areas zoned for the project.

Over the past years, local residents have neither been allowed to build, repair or transfer houses and land, nor compensated or relocated. Statistics showed that there are 3,616 households affected by this project in Quang Ninh. So far, the Transport Ministry has provided 106.28 billion VND to cover site clearance, and the remaining sum needed for this task is around 145 billion VND.

Meanwhile, voters in Hai Duong also complained to the ministry about the Pha Lai – Ha Long rail route, which began 15 years ago but was suspended, cutting off roads, canals and dividing farmland. They urged that this project be resumed and finished as soon as possible, or ground previously prepared for construction to be returned to local residents if it is cancelled.

Solutions to project needed

Concerned about the project’s facilities lying idle and getting dilapidated, the Ministry of Transport has proposed the Prime Minister allow using tracks, sleepers and related equipment purchased under this project for upgrading the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City rail route.

However, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment said according to the law on management and use of public asserts, the materials and equipment are public assets and can only be liquidated once the project is completed. Therefore, they are still left unused and getting dilapidated.

Earlier, the Transport Ministry estimated that in order to continue, this railway project will need an additional 6 trillion VND apart from the earmarked 4.556 trillion VND. As a result, the total investment has risen to 10.556 trillion VND from the 7.665 trillion VND approved in 2004. This ministry blamed higher material, labour and site clearance expenses for the increase.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung asked the Transport Ministry to consider the Finance Ministry’s opinions and promptly submit a report to competent agencies so as to decide whether or not this project should be continued.

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Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said this project was suspended in 2011 and reviewed in 2015, noting that his ministry also proposed capital for this project be sourced from the medium-term capital plan for the 2016 – 2020 period, but funding sources weren’t ready so the project has yet to be resumed.

As the Government recently requested this project to be reviewed, the ministry has assigned its strategy institute and the railway project management board to calculate the capital demand so that the Government can consider capital sources and report the issue to the National Assembly at the parliament’s session later this year.

If everything goes smoothly, funding can be sourced from the capital plan for 2021 – 2025 and the project will go ahead, he added./.