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Hanoi Officials Reject $50m Request From Chinese Metro Contractor

Hanoi officials have refused to pay the Chinese metro contractors their demand of US$50 million in advance to perform a test run on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong line in Hanoi.

According to Thanh Nien, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong stated that the request was presented during a meeting on the progress of the system between the project's management team and the general Chinese contractor.

He then went on to say that this was a discussion between the two sides and was not on the agreed contract made by the ministry and the project management unit. Dong said, "Vietnam has no responsibility to settle this request for money."

Vietnam has so far paid 78% of the contracted amount, with the rest agreed to be paid before the Chinese contractor hands over the project, although it is still unclear at this stage when this will happen.

The Cat Linh-Ha Dong line is one of eight planned to be constructed in Hanoi. The line runs 13 kilometers from downtown Dong Da District to Yen Nghia in Ha Dong District. 

Construction on the line began in October 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013. However, loan disbursement issues with Chinese contractors and several other hurdles meant that disputes between the two sides were only resolved in December 2017. 

During this time, its cost has doubled to VND18 trillion, 77% of which has been in the form of official development assistance (ODA) loans from China. Now, with the promise that there was only 1% of work left to do on the line around a year ago, work is again stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Since COVID-19 broke out in China earlier this year, more than 150 Chinese experts needed for the remaining work have not been able to enter Vietnam. However, a plan has been drawn up to authorize their entry into the country, with a quarantine of 14 days, according to the Hanoi Metropolitan Railway Management Board.

In terms of construction, the work is almost done. Nonetheless, with the firm responsible for the test run, a French consortium called Apave-Certifier-Tricc, not being able to enter the country, and the new demands for advanced payment, the completion date seems even further away than before.

[Photo via Dan Viet]