At the meeting with Mori on Tuesday, HCMC Chairman Le Hoang Quan informed work had started on the overhead section of Metro Line No. 1 and a contract had been signed for locomotive and wagon purchase.

The only remaining problem lies in the construction package No. 1 for the underground section from Ben Thanh Market to Ba Son Shipyard. Construction has not begun because the contractor asked for a high price, posing a need to select another contractor.

For Ben Thanh central station, the city’s leader hoped JICA would provide funding and technical advisory. He said the city intended to invite Japanese investors to join development of this component under the public-private partnership (PPP) format.

Mori said the city should quickly complete this project to move on to other metro lines, saying that if this project was delayed further, its cost would surge.

In regard to the construction package No. 1, he suggested JICA and HCMC should negotiate with the contractor over a new price, rather than conducting another bidding, which could take 6-7 months, affecting the progress of the project.

Replying to the proposal for financial and technical aid for Ben Thanh central station, he said JICA was making a plan for funding. However, because of the fluctuations in the exchange rate between the yen and the U.S. dollar, he could not tell for sure whether JICA could finance the project or not.

Funding for other projects will be considered based on their progress, said Mori.

Chairman Quan suggested the two sides have a meeting and pay a visit to the construction site every quarter to jointly deal with any problem arising.

By Anh Quan - The Saigon Times Daily - June 26,2013