A new government blueprint outlines an ambitious plan for HCM City’s infrastructure to keep pace with its rapidly expanding economy.
Imagine 22 new bridges and two new tunnels traversing HCM City’s rivers.
Imagine the city’s seaport being capable of handling four times the amount of cargo of two years ago, when 51 million tonnes moved through the port.
Imagine the land set aside for transportation development accounting for 17% of the city’s area instead of the current 5%.
These scenarios are part of a plan, released Wednesday by the HCM City Department of Transportation and Public Works, for a 410 trillion dong (US$25.8 billion) boost to HCM City’s infrastructure by 2020.
Departmental officials said the blueprint could be adjusted to keep pace with the city’s dizzying rate of development.
Railway and seaport upgrades
In addition to 22 new bridges and two tunnels crossing the Saigon, Dong Nai, Nha Be and Long Tau rivers, railway routes linking HCM City and the Mekong Delta region and other southeastern provinces are also planned.
At the press briefing, city authorities said the government had approved changes to work on several road and seaport projects already underway.
Among the changes given the green light was for three beltways to be built in the city instead of the planned four.
The plan includes the relocation of the Ba Son shipbuilding plant and the Saigon Port from District 1 to Nha Be District, on the city’s outskirts.
The government gave the nod to an adjustment to the work on several monorail and metro projects in the city.
Work on Vietnam’s first subway began in HCM City last February and is due to be completed by 2014.
It will link HCM City’s districts 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh and Thu Duc as well as Binh Duong Province’s Di An District.
The subway, estimated to cost over US$1 billion, is part of the country’s master plan to build six subway lines and three other above-ground monorail routes in HCM City by 2020.
At the press conference, officials urged relevant agencies to guard against illegal construction, particularly of skyscrapers, across the subway site.
Any such construction would delay the subway project, they said.
Officials also called for the work on beltway projects to be accelerated.
But some of the city’s administrators cast doubt on the target of increasing the proportion of HCM City residents using public transport to 50% by 2020 from 5% now.
They recommended the target be lowered to 30% by 2015, when the first subway line is due to be completed.
Crank up land fund, develop satellite urban areas
Tran Quang Phuong, director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, slammed the amount of land currently set aside for transportation development, which amounted to only four or five% of the city’s area.
HCM City aims to increase the proportion to 20% by 2020.
Phuong called for swift action to increase the amount of land earmarked for infrastructure so it could keep pace with the fast-growing economy.
He also stressed the importance of developing the monorail and metro networks as well as restricting the circulation of two and four-wheeled vehicles.
Officials also pushed for an expansion of HCM City’s urban satellite areas in Long An and Tien Giang provinces in the Mekong Delta.
The overall blueprint set out a plan for HCM City to become a world-class environmentally-friendly city that could accommodate its labour force in satellite urban areas.
Public transport would be a key element in the city’s new blueprint for the future, officials told the media briefing.
Last week, HCM City authorities revealed a swathe of public traffic construction projects are expected to be completed this year.