10 Oct 20 VNExpress Source Seven major expressways totaling 1,000 km and costing VND150 trillion ($6.49 billion) are taking shape in the Mekong Delta, expected to improve connectivity in the region.Mekong Delta is home to around 20 million people, or a fifth of the country's population and known as Vietnam's rice basket and aquaculture hub that supplies 90 percent of its annual grain exports. It is also the source of most of the nation's seafood exports.
However, the region now has only HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway, opened to traffic in 2010 connecting HCMC and Mekong Delta provinces though it has experienced deterioration after a decade of use. To meet growing travel demand and economic development in the region, seven key expressways are being built to boost connection to the delta.
Trung Luong-My Thuan
Work on Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway has been 65 percent complete and it is expected to open to traffic late this year, allowing cars with under 16 seats and trucks under 2.5 tons to run during the 2021 Lunar New Year.
For years, it has been a common sight to see a sea of people returning home to Mekong Delta before Tet and back to HCMC and neighboring provinces after the holiday, causing heavy traffic congestion.
Construction of the 51-kilometer expressway that will cross five districts in Tien Giang Province began in 2009 and was set to complete in 2013, but suffered multiple delays as one investor after another pulled out.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc earlier ordered Trung Luong-My Thuan Expressway to open to traffic by December before its official inauguration in April 2021.
The total cost of the project is over VND12.67 trillion ($545 million), raised from the original VND9.67 trillion ($416 million) after a 10-year delay.
My Thuan-Can Tho
The 23-kilometer expressway will run from My Thuan Bridge 2 in Tien Giang Province to Can Tho City.
Construction on the expressway, costing VND4.8 trillion ($208 million), started in November this year and is slated for completion in 2023. Vinh Long and Dong Thap authorities are currently completing compensation for over 1,500 families cleared from the site.
When complete, the My Thuan-Can Tho section will be linked with the North-South Expressway to improve links between Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, which comprises 13 localities.
Can Tho-Ca Mau
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc recently tasked the Ministry of Transport to study the feasibility of constructing four-lane Can Tho – Ca Mau Expressway to improve connectivity across the delta.
The first section, between Can Tho and Bac Lieu Province, will be built using public funds, while the second, from Bac Lieu to the southernmost province of Ca Mau, will commence under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model.
According to Cuu Long Corporation for Investment Development and Project Management of Infrastructure, the project's consulting unit, the 130-kilometer-long expressway requires total investment of VND47 trillion ($2 billion).
Forecasts for road transport demand in the period 2025-2030 reveal around 30,000-41,000 cars would travel between Ca Mau and Can Tho daily. But the existing highways can only accommodate about 30,600 vehicles at most. Therefore, construction of this expressway is necessary to meet the development needs across related localities.
Lo Te-Rach Soi
The 51-kilometer expressway runs southwest from the Lo Te T-junction in Thot Not District, Can Tho, to Rach Soi Ward in Rach Gia Town, Kien Giang Province, home to Phu Quoc Island.
Workers are racing against time to finish construction of the expressway, scheduled to welcome traffic in mid-October.
Construction of the VND6.3 trillion ($272.4 million) expressway started in 2016, with a $200 million loan from South Korea, and the rest sourced from state coffers.
The expressway will have four lanes and allow vehicles to travel at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
My An-Cao Lanh
The 26-kilometer expressway running from Thap Muoi District to Cao Lanh Bridge in Dong Thap Province is expected to be constructed during the 2021-2025 period and will form part of the 130-kilometer expressway connecting Dong Thap with Can Tho and Kien Giang Province.
Funding for the project will come from a VND3.8 trillion ($164.3 million) loan from South Korea's Economic Development Cooperation Fund and a VND690 billion ($29.8 million) contribution from state coffers.
The four-lane, 17-meter-wide expressway will allow speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.
Chau Doc-Can Tho-Soc Trang
A 155-kilometer expressway will run along the Hau River from Chau Doc Town in An Giang near the Cambodian border, passing through Can Tho and the provinces of Hau Giang and Soc Trang.
Estimated to cost around VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion), it is set to break ground in 2023 and be completed in three years. The project is considered a key piece to complete the transport network in the area and boost connectivity with Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries.
In its first phase, the expressway will be 17 meters (56 feet) wide before widening to over 24 meters and allow speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour.
Ha Tien-Rach Gia-Bac Lieu
Construction of the 225-kilometer Ha Tien-Rach Gi-Bac Lieu Expressway is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2026.
It will run from the beach town Ha Tien of Kien Giang Province through Hau Giang and Soc Trang provinces to Bac Lieu Province. The project will cost VND33.2 trillion ($1.43 billion).
Set to have four lanes and allow speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour, it will link up with key expressways running from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta.
For a long time, HCMC and numerous Mekong Delta provinces have lacked infrastructure, including expressways, to connect them. Legislators have called for greater transport connectivity between Mekong Delta provinces and localities like HCMC.
The government has been making strong efforts to develop the Mekong Delta region. Over the past five years, about 33 percent of public investment for transport has been allocated to the delta, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.