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Saigon Is Building One of the World's Most Expensive Metros

With construction of the Saigon Metro system well under way, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPS) recently touched upon an unsettling truth about the cost of its forthcoming six-line network: it's insanely expensive.

In addition to lagging productivity – the Japanese firm tasked with metro construction is currently seeking over US$90 million in compensation for site clearance delays – the project has already far exceeded its original budget. According to Dat Viet, authorities put the additional cost of Saigon Metro somewhere between 60% and as much as 200% of the initial sum, making it among the most expensive metro systems in the world.

MPS officials cite the construction of underground tunnels as the reason for the sky-high cost, which fluctuates between US$94 million and US$123 million per kilometer. In Hong Kong, the average per-kilometer construction cost of its MTR system was US$90 million, while the costs of metro construction in Shanghai and Italy were US$91 million and US$99 million per kilometer, respectively.

Though Saigon's current costs appear to be in line with its international counterparts, different standards of living must be taken into account. Labor in Vietnam is roughly 10 times cheaper than that of developed countries, making Saigon Metro's price tag notably high by comparison. It's also worth noting that the above-mentioned metro lines are completely underground, while Saigon's system is planned to go both above and below ground, which affects construction costs.

However, not everyone accepts the MPS reasoning behind Saigon Metro's soaring costs. Nguyen Xuan Thuy, former director of the Transport Publishing House, attributes Saigon Metro's present cost to inefficiencies in planning. During initial budget estimations, which took place prior to the start of the project, Thuy predicted the construction cost for a Vietnamese metro system to be roughly US$60 million per kilometer.

Originally, Saigon Metro's flagship Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien line was forecast to reach completion between 2017 and 2018, however setbacks in construction have pushed its opening to 2020.


Related Articles:

Saigon’s Metro Line 2 $784 Million More Than Expected And Delayed 2 Years

Saigon Metro Lines Face Delays, Cost Overruns

Metro Line Contractor Seeks Compensation for Delays


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