Underground reticulation, parking areas and subways play a key role in the development of Vietnam cities but lack of planning, legal regulations and finance is making them inefficient.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said putting such projects underground saved having to use valuable land.

Pham Sy Liem, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Construction Association, said the country's urban population will double by 2025 so more than 300,000ha agriculture land will be needed for urban development.

Ho Chi Minh City's socio-economic plan over the next year included 60km of subways and underground parking lots in the parks of Le Van Tam and Tao Dan, and Hoa Lu stadium, and to reroute electricity telecommunication cable underground.

Da Nang City intended to build a 2.5ha underground parking lot and other underground traffic systems.

Hanoi has a system of underground railways and tunnels in the early stages of construction.

However, experts agreed the lack of a development plan of underground projects, legal management regulations and finance has caused shortcomings.

Dong said there is no database on underground projects so consequently there is overlapping and inefficiencies.

He said electricity, water, telecommunications and construction companies are all making separate plans and underground parking lots are being designed for individual private projects, not public ones.

Also, Nguyen Hong Tien, head of the ministry's Infrastructure Department, said construction of many underground urban railways in HCM City and the capital has failed to meet their deadlines while others that have been completed had started cracking and developing holes.

Tran Anh Tuan, deputy head of the ministry's Infrastructure Department said legal criteria as well as a management agency on underground projects have yet to be formed.

Nguyen Hoang Giang of Foundation Engineering&Underground Construction Joint Stock Company said it is necessary to research potential risks in building subways and underground parking lots to provide suitable solutions.

Collapse of surface and underground structures are the two biggest risks, he said.

Luu Duc Hai, head of the ministry's Urban Development Department said underground traffic systems affect the development of other underground projects so planning is needed.

This is not to mention the large amount of investment poured into these projects which requires the Government to draft out a detailed itinerary of construction and development of underground projects, Hai said.

The Government also should encourage scientists to work with foreign experts to apply modern technologies to the projects, he said.

It is necessary for the Government and relevant agencies to form favourable mechanisms to attract investors to develop underground projects, such as free space for underground use.

Experts also suggested the establishment of a management agency to ensure the proper operation of underground projects.

Vuong Hoang Thanh, deputy head of HCM City Management Board of Urban Traffic Project Construction, said his board will be responsible for setting up a data base of underground space, putting forward guidelines of use of the space, and licensing underground projects.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Nghi said the ministry has been drafting legal management regulations on underground projects and publishing favourable mechanisms for the construction of underground projects.-VNA