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Saigon Metro's Foreign Experts to Be Paid at Least $23,000 Per Month

Teaching train driving is a bankable field nowadays.

Foreign experts needed to train local metro engineers will receive monthly payments of at least US$23,000 (VND530 million), according to contracts between the HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) and Japan's metro consultancy NJPT, a consortium led by Nippon Koei.

Meanwhile, driving experts will be paid VND506 million per month. They will both also receive a daily stipend for living expenses of JPY11,500 (approximately VND2.5 million), which is slightly less than what NJPT suggested of JPY12,000. 

The wages were set in 2007 and are in line with compensation for experts involved in Jakarta's recent mass transit project. Salary details for Vietnamese engineers and operators have not been disclosed.

When NJPT first signed the contract to perform basic design, bidding, construction, maintenance and consultation duties for the Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien route, the project was expected to take 132 months and be completed by 2015. As everyone is aware, delays have stacked up and the first line won't be ready until 2022. The wait has resulted in the need for frequent alterations to the contract and a temporary halt in the training of 58 drivers who were not being paid for their time. 

Despite the wait, some progress is being made. The first train for Saigon's Ben Thanh-Suoi Tien metro line arrived from Japan last fall. Before beginning operation, 16 more trains will arrive, equaling a total of 51 passenger cars. Each train can house up to 930 riders.

The delays have also forced authorities to re-consider the ticketing system that will be used. Because it was established in 2010, it does not facilitate bank cards, e-wallets or smartphones, nor does make it easy for special groups of passengers like students, senior citizens or people with disabilities to receive automatic fare reductions.

[Photo via Người Đưa Tin]