Vietnam's plan to bury city wires moving slowly

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Power wires above a road in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo courtesy of Saigon Tiep Thi

A plan to move Ho Chi Minh City's vast webs of overhead electronic wire underground by 2015 is plagued by financial and technical problems.

Bui Trung Kien, head of the planning department at Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation, said the company expects to bury more than half of the city's low- and medium-voltage wires, or 900 kilometers of them, by the end of 2015, clearing Districts 1 and 3 of the eyesores.

More clearance will be done through 2020, according to the plan.

But Kien said the project has been hit by capital problems as it costs five times as much to put power wires underground than it does to hang them outside. Low profits expected from the project has made it hard for the city to borrow from banks.

He said a recent proposal by the company to be charged only half of normal lending rates has been approved by the city government.

Kien said the project has been taking more time and work than normal as the underground work often collides with other light cables and water pipelines.

He said many sidewalks in the city were small and do not have enough space underneath them for all the cables plus the frames to hold them in place. He said that it's often hard for companies to reach agreements on sharing the current frames.

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