Sand shortage delays transport projects hinh anh 1Sand dredged on the V​am C​o ​Dong River in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh, some 100km from HCM City. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Many transport projects in southern localities have been delayed due to the scarcity and surging price of construction sand, Giao Thong (Transport) newspaper reported.

For instance, a contractor of the Ben Luc-Long Thanh Highway said that only half of the road foundation had been built; some 80,000 cubic metres of sand are missing to complete the project’s foundation.

“We are having a headache due to sand scarcity. Foundation sand was 120,000 VND (5.2 USD) per cubic metre, now it has risen to more than 200,000 USD (8.7 USD) per cubic metre,” he said.

Nguyen Ngoc Son, acting director of the A1 of HCM City-Trung Luong Highway said that the contractor has found ways to connect with other sand providers, but there is still not enough sand and progress has been delayed.

“The sand scarcity started two months ago. The project has been behind schedule at least one month. The contractor’s financial plan is also affected, because the sand price stated in the construction contract was only 100,000 VND (4.3 USD). We have submitted petitions to investors to call for support,” he said.

The Government wants to limit sand extraction because some companies have been overexploiting sand, damaging the environment. Using artificial sand is an alternative for road building, being discussed in some areas.

Sand scarcity has also threatened the deadline of Lo Te-Rach Soi road, a key project that is expected to enhance connections with the southwestern economic hub to foster socio-economic growth of the Mekong Delta region.

Nguyen Ngoc Toan, deputy general director of Cuu Long Corporation for Investment, Development and Project Management of Infrastructure (CIPM), said the road foundation needs large amounts of sand. He said the total sand reserve licensed to be exploited in the southwestern region is about 2.25 million cubic metres per year, while the demand has surged to 8 to 10 million cubic metres per year.

“Licensed sand reserves meet 30 percent of real demand only. According to our estimate, the Lo Te-Rach Soi project must mobilise two million cubic metres of sand within ten months, equal to 6,000 to 7,000 cubic metres per day. However, we have only 1,000 to 2,000 cubic metres per day,” he said.

According to Toan, many contractors have to deposit money in advance, accept capital loss and buy sand at a higher price than listed in the contract to accelerate progress. However, they still cannot buy enough sand to meet their needs.

Vu Tuan Anh, deputy head of the Public-Private Partnership Department under the Ministry of Transport, said that the sand scarcity results in surging sand prices. For example, the price publicised by Tien Giang province in March, 2017 was 200,000-250,000 VND (8.7-10.8 USD) per cubic metre of yellow sand.

Contractors now have to buy sand at 400,000-500,000 VND (17.3-21 USD) per cubic metre.

The ministry will ask the provinces of An Giang, Tien Giang and Can Tho to publish the real price based on updated conditions, he said.-VNA