New Vietnam bridge already falling into disuse

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Transport companies and the investor of Ho Chi Minh City’s newest major bridge complain they are losing billions of dong per month as local authorities have been slow to open the roadway to large vehicles.

Vehicles with over seven seats are not yet allowed to cross the Phu My Bridge, inaugurated last September, which links Districts 2 and 7 over the Saigon River.

Nguyen Thanh Thai, director general of the Phu My Bridge BOT Joint Stock Company (PMC), said it could not yet grant full access to the bridge as the HCMC People’s Committee had been slow in approving its toll collection plan.

Another PMC leader, who wished to stay unnamed, also said the firm had to wait for approval from the city’s Department of Transport, and was therefore losing returns on its investment.

He said PMC was suffering losses of some VND200 billion (US$10.7 million) a month in uncollected fees due to the sluggishness of the committee and the department.

The company said it had submitted on January 1 a proposal to open the bridge to all vehicles, but it has yet to receive a response from either of the two authorities.

Lawyer Thai Van Chung, general secretary of HCMC Transport Association, said the Phu My Bridge â€" which shortens distances from HCMC to the Mekong Delta and northern and central provinces â€" should also have helped companies save a total of around VND1 billion via reduced daily fuel purchases.

But Chung said major transporters, which use large trucks disallowed on the highly-anticipated piece of infrastructure, had yet to reap its benefits.

Shorter distances also meant shorter delivery time, but the cable-stayed bridge had yet to be fully utilized, he added.

Nguyen Hong Quang, director of a HCMC vehicle registration center, argued that the Phu My Bridge also had yet meet its goal of helping reduce the amount of traffic on the city’s urban streets.

As they are not allowed to cross the bridge, trucks from local seaports continue to use the run-down and congested Nguyen Tat Thanh Street in District 4 and the 49-year old Sai Gon bridge.

Source: Tuoi Tre

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