The bauxite route - as a traffic corridor comprised of National Highways 20 and 51 and Provincial Road 769 is often referred to - can accommodate trucks of a maximum 30 tonnes, while Vietnam Coal and Minerals Industries Group (Vinacomin) plans to use heavy trucks of 40 tonnes for the purpose.

At the meeting on Saturday, Dong Nai Province vice chair Tran Van Vinh stressed that National Highway 20 is only seven meters wide with many curves.

The highway, with many sections having been deteriorated, is already overburdened with some 15,000 vehicles passing through each day. So if bauxite trucks are allowed on this highway, the risk of accidents will be high, Vinh said.

Meanwhile, Provincial Road 769 linking National Highway 20 to National Highway 51 is also a narrow road, with five small bridges with maximum load of 30 tonnes each, and therefore cannot stand the 40-tonne bauxite trucks.

Even National Highway 51 is not convenient for alumina transport now, as its upgrade has not yet completed.

Vice chair Vinh said that National Highway 51 is under construction, where traffic jams occur often due to the daily 25,000 turns of vehicles.

Vinh urged the Ministry of Transport to quickly upgrade the roads and bridges if Vinacomin's heavy trucks are to be allowed on the route.

The Vietnam Road Administration agreed at the meeting, saying two bridges on National Highway 20 and five on Provincial Road 769 must be upgraded to allow for 40-tonne trucks to cross.

The big problem is that Vinacomin has already imported such big trucks to transport bauxite, and the transport should start some time next month.

Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang said at the meeting that the ministry always facilitate businesses but cannot accept the way Vinacomin runs business by importing heavy-duty trucks for use before upgrading the roads.

Thang said the government has approved the upgrade for National Highway 20 under Build - Transfer (BT) project. Therefore, the ministry will soon consider financial schemes to mobilise capital for the project.

The upgrade projects for the bauxite route will be submitted to the government for approval on Monday, the minister said.

Earlier on August 12, the Ministry of Transport had a working session with Dong Nai and Ba Ria - Vung Tau provinces about construction progress on National Highway 51.

At the session, Pham Van Hien, general director of the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau Expressway Development Joint Stock Co. (BVEC), said his firm has completed 14 construction packages.

Hien said the construction project faces many difficulties in site clearance and compensation for affected people at some bridges and flyovers. Besides, rising material costs may push up the total investment capital and rainfall may slow down the progress.

However, BVEC committed to timely complete the remaining items of the project within this year provided that the two provinces Dong Nai and Ba Ria - Vung Tau sufficiently hand over the required land.

National Highway 51 expansion project kicked off on August 2009 and was planned for completion in August 2012. The project's total investment capital is some.2 trillion and is carried out under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format.

The Saigon Times Daily - August 17, 2011