A graphic image of Long Thanh Airport in southern province of Dong Nai. Photo credit: VnExpress
A group of legislators has asked the government to fast-track the construction of Long Thanh Airport in southern Vietnam, fearing that possible delays in site clearance and funding may affect the US$15.8 billion project, local media reported Monday.
News website VnExpress reported that the airport, slated to become Vietnam's largest, will possibly be five years behind the schedule for its first stage.
It cited the National Assembly's economic committee as saying that the delay is expected to be caused by a prolonged site clearance process, which cannot begin until a feasibility study is approved, possibly in 2018.
The committee, therefore, advised the government to create special policies for the project to start clearance and resettlement as soon as possible, instead of waiting for two more years. These policies should be submitted to the National Assembly for approval this March, the committee said.
The government and the National Assembly should also provide Dong Nai Province with funding so it can soon build new residential areas for affected residents, the group of legislators said.
In November last year, in an attempt to speed up site clearance work, the provincial authorities sought the government's financial assistance to pay compensation to affected residents and build resettlement areas. An estimated 500 families may have to be relocated for the project.
The province said it will cost nearly VND11.27 trillion (US$495.83 million) to clear more than 2,550 hectares of land for the project's first stage.
However, the proposal was challenged by some legislators who were concerned that it would put more burden on the state budget which has already been strained.
With a projected cost of $15.8 billion, the airport, about 40 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, is slated to serve 100 million passengers and 5 million tons of goods annually.
When its first stage is completed in 2023, it is expected to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of goods a year. It will achieve its maximum capacity after the second and third stages.
Vietnamese authorities want Long Thanh to replace the country's currently biggest airport Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City, as the latter already reached its designed capacity of 20 million passengers a year in 2013.