More than 30 Vietnamese leading scientists are divided in discussions in Hanoi on May 11 on the construction of a $55.8-billion railway project. Many, including Deputy Minister of Transport La Ngoc Khue, supported the project and said the project will make a breakthrough for the national economy.
Deputy Head of the Institute of Transport Planning and Management Khuat Manh Hung said this is the Vietnamese biggest scientific project which is expected to bring the national science to a new height.
However, Dr. Pham Sy Liem from the Vietnam Construction Association criticized that the government approved the project hurriedly, not based on the national real socioeconomic situation. Liem suggested the necessity to consider the project’s economic efficiency to avoid squandering public investment.
Dr. Nguyen Quang A estimated that the real cost of the project will climb to $100 billion, much higher than the initial capital of $55.8 billion as calculated by the Vietnam Railway Corporation.
Meanwhile, Vietnam will have to borrow foreign loans for the project, accounting for up to 25% of the country’s GDP, Nguyen Quang A said, warning of a lesson from Greece because the national debts forecast to hit 44.6% of the country’s GDP by end-2010, meaning that it hits the safe brackets as categorized by the World Bank.
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Hoa from the Vietnam Environment Association raised his concerns about the project’s environmental impacts, particularly 1.383 million of forest with bio-diversity.
The 1,570-km express railway which will run through 20 cities and provinces will affect 16,500 local households. The country will need up to VND30.4 trillion for site clearance of the railway with construction scheduled to start in 2012 as latest and for full completion in 2035.