Monday, 11/12/2017
Implementing solutions to develop transport in Vietnam
26/9/2017 14:29' Send Print
Illustration image. Image: baogiaothong.vn

Successes and challenges

Achievements are numerous

According to Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Vietnam's Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) stood at 56/140, rising 12 places. Particularly, the index of transport infrastructure climbed 9 steps (from 76 in the 2014-2015 report to 67 in the 2015- 2016 report).

Compared to the pre-renovation period, in recent years transport infrastructure has made a major breakthrough. The most noticeable thing is thanks to large projects such as the Hanoi-Lao Cai Highway, Ho Chi Minh City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Highway, Noi Bai Airport T2 Terminal, National Highway 1A, and the transfer of projects, socialization of investment, including attracting BOT capital for infrastructure construction, highways were built and put into operation, facilitating transport enterprises’ investment and improvement of quality of services, bringing about benefits to the whole society. Urban transport has also been improved with many multi-layer interchanges, flyovers, bypasses, modern river tunnel built in major cities, contributing to gradually reduce congestion. Along with investment in construction, the transport sector has also focused on efficiently exploitation of infrastructure. New and advanced technologies in the construction of works have been successfully transferred and applied in many projects throughout the country.

It can be said that the transport sector has effectively implemented strategic breakthroughs in association with restructuring the transport sector to reform the growth model, improve productivity, quality and competitiveness. The application of information technology is considered a new development method to renovate the process of management, production, business and improve the competitiveness of enterprises. As a result, the quality of transport services has been improved, reducing transport costs to the average level of the ASEAN-6.

Great challenges

However, transport technical infrastructure has fallen short of demands to speed up the pace of industrialization and modernization and economic restructuring according to the resolutions of the Party and the National Assembly. We have not yet brought into play the comparative advantages of the country, namely the particularly important geopolitical position of Southeast Asia, the very center of regional or trans-continental waterways, airways, railways, which are very convenient for transport development. Poor connectivity of waterways, land transport, railways, and airways inland has reduced the efficiency of each mode of transport as well as the whole system, resulting in capacity waste. Many roads built in different stages due to investment availability from different sources are not compatible in capacities and speeds. All these have hampered effective and convenient transport organization and multimodal transportation. For example, we invested in the construction of the Cai Mep-Thi Vai deep-water port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau. However, slow connectivity of the port to road system has resulted in ineffective exploitation of the port. Or on the North-South railway, there remain 32 weak bridges in the section of Da Nang-Ho Chi Minh City to be upgraded to reach unified transport load on the entire line. Besides, transport line density is also unreasonable in different places. Some railway lines to the provinces in the Central Highlands, or to My Tho, and Binh Duong provinces, and railway to the seaports built in the past for many reasons were removed. For a long period, we did not pay much attention to the development of public passenger transport, which led to overuse of personal means of transport - one of the causes of traffic accidents, traffic jams and serious environmental pollution in big cities.

To some extent, it is possible to say that transport technical designs and construction are not fully suitable to terrains or weather conditions in some places, thus causing constant landslides and collapse, threatening traffic safety, resulting in high costs for maintenance, reparation and overhaul. Viaducts, suspension bridges, tunnels should have been designed and constructed in some places for environment protection while ensuring safe traffic all the year round. Here, it is how we solve the issue of cost-efficiency in building transport works in the most reasonable, and sustainable manner. Weaknesses or delay in the application of information technology, digital technology, the Internet, satellite in the management and exploitation of transport works have led to fraud, loss, loss in revenue in return. Negative phenomena have been rampant in all corners of the country leading to increase in transport costs.

Underlying causes

There are many reasons for this situation. Nevertheless, subjective reasons are the main causes. First of all, the state management is still weak and the state investment is fragmented without focus, and target; and efficiency is not high; The implementation of State laws and policies on transport of State management agencies and people are not strict and affirmative in all areas, and fail to meet the requirements. Next, in face of investment shortage from state budget, we have not yet fully harnessed the strength of economic sectors. Recently, in the period of 2010-2015, the transport sector mobilized nearly VND 200 trillion of social investment in transport projects in the form of BOT. However, in applying the existing regulations on Public-Private Partnership (PPP), there are some shortcomings that affect the effectiveness of the project, causing discontent among part of the people, and vehicle owners in the project area. In addition, negative phenomena, and harassment in transport activities have increased the cost of transportation, the cost of goods circulation and passenger movement in the economy. To some extent, we have not had a revolution in transport though the Resolutions of the 11th and 12th Party Congresses have always considered the development of transport infrastructure one of the important breakthroughs.

Solutions in the coming period

Starting the revolution to build and implement strategies, plans, programs and projects with a longer perspective, creating a solid foundation for investment in the development of the synchronous and effective transport infrastructure system, paying special attention to improve quality and detailed orientation of investment in national and local transport works are the steps to be taken in the current stage. Overcome weak connectivity between the north-south line and the East-West line, among modes of transport; boost connection among modes of transport, meet requirements to organize multi-modal transport; logistics services gradually catch up regional and international standards, and contribute to change the country’s transport. Maintain the existing National Highway 1A and North-South Railway for people to choose alongside highways and the North-South high-speed railway, which is gradually taking shape. Given the long coastline stretching from the North to the South, we need to pay special attention to the development of ocean shipping, North-South sea transport, inland waterways while expanding, upgrading and constructing seaport system and river port to make ocean transport one of the main transport lines.

Resolve incompatibility of transport routes, types of transport; remove “bottlenecks”, such as co-load, and co-speed. Develop a reasonable mode of transport in the direction of reducing the market share of road transport, increasing the market share of rail and inland waterway transport, especially on main transport corridors, improving service quality, reducing transportation costs to promptly and fully meet demand for transportation of goods and passengers. Increase passenger public transport in big cities and suburban and inter-provincial routes for people’s perusal to gradually reduce the number of personal means of transport in line with people's consensus. Concentrate on investing in subway lines already included in the planning of big cities.

It is necessary to renovate the design and constructions to conform to the conditions and topography of Vietnam and protect the environmental landscape. Step up the application of information technology in the modernization of transport management, step by step modernize the management of transport infrastructure and raise the efficiency and effectiveness of the management, use, handling and sanctions based on the application of information technology and digital technology, mobilize social resources for the maintenance of transport infrastructure to reduce the burden on the state budget, and basically put into effective operation of the existing transport infrastructure system. Study, adjust and redirect the alignments on some highways in mountainous areas where floods frequently occur, in combination with building viaducts and underpasses to ensure safe circulation in all four seasons.

Attention should be paid to the development of high quality human resources who operate and use modern means of transport as well as professional transport managers to improve the capacity of policymaking, consultancy, management of investment, development and management, exploitation of transport infrastructure and transport management.

Review, amend and supplement laws and legal documents in the field of transport. It is possible to study the formation of the Code on transport based on the existing laws on roads, railways, inland waterways, airways and maritime transport by abolishing or amending outdated regulations, unsuitable to the market economy and international economic integration, supplementing new regulations in line with international commitments, and free trade agreements (FTAs).

Step up the mobilization of social investment in transport, using allocation from the state budget as “seed money” and invest in regions and areas that other economic sectors cannot invest. Overcome shortcomings in investment in the form of BOT and PPP in order to create a breakthrough in domestic and foreign capital mobilization on the basis of research, selection of model, and perfecting the policy framework on investment forms in PPPs in the transport sector so that the state investment will be less than 50% of the total investment, enough to make the project financially feasible. Encourage repayment options of transport infrastructure projects by exploiting the land fund, doing other projects in combination with local economic development. Provide timely and transparent information on the list of BOT, and PPP investment projects and only allow BOT investment in new routes; state budget can be used for lines that need renovation and upgrading to create for choice of transport of people.

Promote the role of state-owned highway construction companies, such as Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC), Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Financial Investment Corporation (VIDIFI) by providing sufficient charter capital and fulfill obligations that the State has committed to businesses to improve their financial capacity and implementation of projects, management of operation, exploitation and return collection.

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This article was published in Communist Review No 898 (August 2017)

Phung Quoc HienMember of the Party Central Committee, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly