Recently, Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport has proposed to spend VND 1,000 trillion-1,500 trillion for renovating road, rail, inland waterway, sea and air transport infrastructure till 2030. The Transport Department and Strategy Institute under the Ministry has different proposals for such a master plan to be carried out in the 2021-30 period and with a vision until 2050. One of the biggest contributors will be road transportation with a target to transport 2.76 million tonnes of cargo and 9.43 million passengers per year. The projects would include the construction of 5,000 km of expressways and high speed rail routes running along major north-south arteries.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport has urged localities in the south-eastern region to speed up major transport projects by diversifying the sources of capital over the next five years. The priorities have been given to the expansion of the Ho Chi Minh City-(HCMC) Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway, construction of the Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway, Bien Hoa-Vung Tau expressway, HCMC-Moc Bai, and Ring Roads 2 and 3. Other projects include construction of the Long Thanh-Thu Thiem light railway connecting HCMC to the new Long Thanh airport, and expansion of Provincial Road 25C from HCMC to Dong Nai province.

HCMC-Moc Bai expressway project

The authorities in HCMC and Tay Ninh province have announced that construction of the VND 13.6 trillion HCMC-Moc Bai expressway is expected to start in 2023 and be completed in 2025. The length of the expressway will be 53 km and it will connect Ring Road 3 in HCMC’s outlying district of Hoc Mon to National Highway 22 in the southern province of Tay Ninh’s Moc Bai Border Gate Economic Zone. The first phase will include the 33 km four-lane section from HCMC to Trang Bang with four lanes designed for a speed of 120 km per hour while the second phase will build the 20.5 km section with the design speed of 80 km per hour from Trang Bang to Moc Bai that will be expanded to six to eight lanes. The expressway will be constructed using a build-operate-transfer investment model, with the government covering the cost of land compensation.

The Ministry of Transport was initially assigned as the investor of the project. However, the project has been delayed for a long time, so the HCMC government has urged the ministry to give it autonomy and coordinate with Tay Ninh to execute the project. In October 2020, the HCMC government was allowed to take charge of the project. Currently, the authorities in HCMC and Tay Ninh province are working to finish procedures and the viability review in 2021. It is expected that the compensation payment  for land acquisition is expected to be completed by 2022 which will allow work on the project to begin in 2023.

Increase in project cost

Earlier, in 2019, the cost for the project was estimated at VND 10.7 trillion. However, in a recent document sent to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the estimated cost has been increased to VND 13.6 trillion. The total investment in the project has been increased due to an addition of two intersections along the road: One intersection in HCMC’s Hoc Mon district with Ring Road 3 and the other intersection with Ring Road 8 in HCMC’s Cu Chi District. In addition, the cost of the site clearance work for the project and compensation for the affected households have also increased.

Reducing traffic congestion and improving connectivity

The HCMC-Moc Bai expressway, which connects the southern city and neighbouring Tay Ninh province will not only boost socio-economic development in the two localities, but also strengthen connectivity in the entire south-eastern region. Initial research has also shown that the expressway will intersect Ring Road 3 and Ring Road 4 in HCMC, which will shorten the time for transporting goods in the region and facilitate import-export trade between Vietnam and Cambodia via the Moc Bai International Border Gate. Vietnam’s southern provinces and Cambodia currently share the border line of more than 1,000 km. Moc Bai is the most important border gate for the import-export trade between the south-eastern region, HCMC and Cambodia.

Currently, National Highway 22 which is the only road connecting HCMC and Tay Ninh province, the international gateway to the ASEAN countries, is usually overloaded. The new expressway is expected to reduce traffic pressure on National Highway 22 and contribute to the economic and social development of the city, Tay Ninh province and neighbouring countries, including Cambodia.

The way forward

The provincial authorities are also expediting the construction and expansion of other routes connecting Tay Ninh with other southern provinces such as Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Long An. As the HCMC-Moc Bai expressway will act as a “backbone” axis, other roads connecting to the expressway will help boost the effectiveness of the project. Reportedly, to maximise the efficiency of the project, the Tay Ninh administration is making a proposal to the government to suggest that the expressway be extended to the Xa Mat International Border Gate in the province.

The capital invested in the expressway project is expected to be recovered 23 years and 8 months after the project is put into operation. Once commissioned, the expressway will help improve the traffic system in the southern key economic zone, increase the capacity of a road connecting HCMC and Cambodia and ease traffic on National Highway 22.