Ho Chi Minh City struggles to clear land for its first subway, again

By Mai Vong, Thanh Nien News

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The construction site of HCMC's first subway in District 1. Photo: Mai Vong The construction site of HCMC's first subway in District 1. Photo: Mai Vong

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The last-to-be-cleared site of Ho Chi Minh City’s first subway line is expected to be handed over to its contractor this March, about five months behind the last schedule adjustment. 
Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways, told a press briefing on Monday that the troubled site covered nearly two hectares in the neighboring Binh Duong Province. 
It was among the sites assigned for the construction of the line’s tail in District 9. 
As the project investor, Cuong's agency pledged to clear the sites no later than the end of 2012, but the deadline was pushed to October last year. 
The agency said last year it was required to compensate its contractor $100,000 for every day behind schedule. 
Sumimoto Cienco 6, a Japanese-Vietnamese joint venture, is in charge of building most of the subway that will run 19.7 kilometers between Ben Thanh Market in District 1 and Suoi Tien in District 9.
The subway line was planned with a total investment of $2.49 billion, more than 88 percent of which came from Japan’s official development assistance and the rest covered by the city’s budget.
According to the city’s estimates, the delay in site clearance might push the project’s completion to 2020, well beyond the late 2018 deadline set forth in a planned approved by the government.

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