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|A high-speed rail route between HCM City and Can Tho will help smoothen passenger and cargo transport in the Mekong Delta. - Photo sggp.org.vn|
“Now the road network in the Mekong Delta can only meet 30 - 40 per cent of transport demand while waterway transport from the Mekong Delta to HCM City is only through the Cho Gao Channel and dependent on the tide,” Bui Van Quan, chairman of the HCM City Cargo Transportation Association, told Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
The road network is grossly inadequate while 70 - 80 per cent of the delta’s products is exported through ports in HCM City and Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province.
Containers, refrigerated trucks and 30-tonne trucks have difficultly in traversing the routes while fresh fruits and seafood, key export products, cannot be transported by water because boats are too slow.
A high-speed rail route between HCM City and Can Tho was approved by the Ministry of Transport in 2013. It will be 140km long and have nine stations, and passenger trains will run at 200km/h and freight trains at 120km/h.
But it has failed to get off the ground since the Government did not assign much priority to it. Ha Ngoc Truong, deputy chairman of the HCM City Bridge, Road and Port Association and head of the high-speed rail project, explained: “The Ministry of Transport reckons the Mekong Delta … should promote its waterway strength and did not add the project to the priority list.”
“There are two investors from the US and Britain who would like to invest in the project. The cost is expected to be around US$5.7 billion and it will need approval from the National Assembly.
“I think the National Assembly, Government and related authorities should speed up the project to deal with the severe traffic congestion in the Mekong Delta and HCM City.”
The project would be key to fostering the delta’s economic development, especially if the route is extended to the southernmost province of Ca Mau, he said.
“The high-speed railway system will enable people to travel to HCM City in only 45 minutes and reduce the cost of transport of goods from the Mekong Delta to HCM City and Ba Ria – Vung Tau’s ports and improve the competitiveness of exports.” It takes around three hours by road now.
To provide power to run the trains, of the nine stations seven will have electricity plants generating power from waste while the two termini in Tan Kien in HCM City and Cái Cui in Can Tho will have solar power plants.
“When the project is finished, besides resolving the traffic congestion, waste treatment in localities along the route will be taken care of by these seven plants,” Truong added.