ON SOUTHERN COASTAL CORRIDOR PROJECT
a. Improvement Requirements
- The existing road infrastructure does not provide a satisfactory level of service to road users in terms of travel times, transport costs, vehicle weights and dimensions and road safety, and has serious negative environmental impacts on the resident population. The major deficiencies include: (1) inadequate road geometric standards for the level of traffic carried; (2) congestion, delays, noise and air pollution in town centres; (3) additional costs and delays created by the Tac Cau ferry; (4) lack of a direct route between Ca Mau and Kien Giang provincial centres; and (5) weight and dimension restrictions imposed by the weak bridges and the Tac Cau ferry. If the road infrastructure is to satisfy the needs of the traffic demand forecasted along the GMS-SCC in Viet Nam it will be necessary to improve existing roads and bridges, construct bypasses around congested towns and construct new road sections to shorten travel distances.
- The high incidence of road accidents and deaths, particularly on the national highway network, is a major problem throughout Viet Nam. Road accident and fatality statistics, normally available in other provinces, could not be obtained for Kien Giang and Ca Mau provinces. Notwithstanding, a road safety inspection on the existing corridor roads revealed many instances where existing road infrastructure either does not meet the MOT’s geometric design standards or is inadequate to cope with the volume and mix of heavy vehicles, motorcycles and pedestrians. Improvements in the road infrastructure are needed to eliminate or minimize hazards and comply with safety standards.
- MOT has surveyed the corridor and prepared preliminary designs for realigning the existing roads, widening or replacing existing bridges, and constructing new road sections and bridges between Xa Xia and Ca Mau. These preliminary designs were reviewed by the TA Consultant and used as the basis for preparing the SCCP sections in Viet Nam, though changes from the preliminary designs have been made and are incorporated into the proposed SCCP scope of work.
- QL 80 Xa Xia – Rach Gia. Traffic levels and Viet Nam road engineering standards indicate that QL80 should be widened to a Class III – 60 km/h or 80km/h standard. The MOT pr eliminary designs proposed both horizontal and vertical realignment and widening of the road on both sides which would involve a significant and costly resettlement effort. A practical solution is to widen the road on the existing horizontal alignment, except where the alignment may need to be changed to correct accident black spots. On most road sections a nominal 22m wide area is needed for road widening  .
- Canal bank development. The biggest problem for road improvements in the Mekong Delta region is that most roads run parallel to canals with only a few metres of separation between the pavement edge and canal bank. This situation applies to most of the GMS-SCC length. Legally or otherwise, structures have been built along the canal bank, often extended over the water on piles. Land acquisition on the canal side will result in large numbers of residences and businesses needing to be relocated entirely because there is no room to move back. Therefore the approach taken in most instances is to widen the GMS-SCC roads on the land side only.
- QL63 Minh Luong – ThuBay. The short section between Minh Luong and the Tac Cau ferry has a narrow pavement in poor condition and needs to be improved to a Class III – 60 km/h standard. The remaining section of QL63 between the Tac Cau ferry and ThuBay has sufficient carriageway width but requires construction of shoulders and provision of a clear area on both sides, plus reconstruction of the approach embankments to recently-constructed bridges. Kien Giang PDOT is constructing replacement br idges for the remaining single-lane Bailey bridges on this section, a 2.8km bypass around An Bien town and the 0.8km north part of a bypass around ThuBay therefore these works do not need to be included in the SCCP.
- Tac Cau ferry. The ferry is a major impedance in the road network between Kien Giang and Ca Mau provinces and between Kien Giang’s An Minh, Vinh Thuan and An Bien Districts and the provincial centre, Rach Gia. The increased out-of-pocket costs and travel times imposed by the ferry service on road users has suppressed traffic across the Cai Be and Cai Lon Rivers as evidenced by the sharp drop in traffic on the south side (25% of the traffic level on the north side). Only two vessels can carry medium trucks and large buses; none can carry heavy trucks.
- Traffic is increasing rapidly and Kien Giang PDOT has proposed upgrading the ferry service by introducing larger 60-ton vessels and constructing the associated landing facilities (pontoons, piling and connecting bridges). The 60-ton ferries can carry medium trucks up to 12t GVW and this additional capacity would provide a reasonable level of service in the short term. Unlike other major river crossings in the Mekong Delta, the larger 100-ton ferries cannot safely navigate through the TacCauCanal and would require a significant expansion of landing facilities and queuing areas for passengers and vehicles.
- The alternative to the ferry service is construction of a bypass on a parallel alignment east of the TacCauCanal rejoining QL63 south of the ferry terminal. Preliminary designs have been prepared showing an alignment 6.4km in length located approximately 1km east of QL63 with two long bridges: Cai Be 600m and Cai Lon 680m respectively. The bypass will eliminate all restrictions created by the ferry. The TA conducted a comparative assessment of improving the ferry service or constructing a road bypass and concluded that a road bypass is the more economic solution.
- Thu Bay – Ca Mau. The corridor presently follows QL63 which is a single-lane road with a 3.5m wide pavement. The majority of bridges are Bailey bridges with 5t vehicle GVW limits forcing m edium or heavy trucks travelling between Ca Ma and Kien Giang to take a very circuitous route on QL1A, QL91 and QL80. There are two options for developing the last section of the corridor south of ThuBay. Option 1 is improvement of QL63 to Ca Mau; Option 2 is improvement of Kien Giang Provincial Road TL7 to the NgaBacCanal together with construction of a new road to Ca Mau ending at the access road to the Khanh An Industrial Zone (IZ) west of Ca Mau city. Both options have been extensively evaluated by MOT, the previous Small Scale TA and the present TA No. 6235-REG.
- Option 1 comprises the widening of QL63 from the existing single lane roadway to a Class III – 60km/h standard, construction of a bypass around Vinh Thuan and replacement of 18 single-lane bridges and 3 large bridges. Extensive resettlement of houses and businesses along its entire length is required. QL63 ends at the north edge of Ca Mau city therefore an additional urban road improvements or new road will be required to connect to the Khanh An IZ. The total length of road construction in Option 1 is approximately 90 km excluding the additional connection to the Khanh An IZ.
- Option 2 requires the widening of Kien Giang TL7. This road runs along the Song Trem – Song Cai Lon Canal between ThuBay and the Nga Bac Canal. It was recently improved by Kien Giang PDOT to slightly less than a Class IV – 40 km/h standard with a 5.5m carriageway, and single-lane bridges with 20t GVW limits have been constructed across all the feeder canals. It does not satisfy the minimum geometric standard for the GMS-SCC and both the road and bridges will need to be widened. The road is densely populated between ThuBay and An Minh and widening will require very extensive resettlement.
- Between the NgaBacCanal and Thoi Binh, Ca Mau Provincial Road TL15 runs along the TremRiver and approximately 1km to the east a rural road runs along the Lo Xa Canal which parallels the TremRiver. Neither road is suitable for improvement to a Class III standard and a new road paralleling the Lo Xa Canal from the end of Kien Giang TL7 to Thoi Binh town is proposed. Bridges will need to be constructed over 17 small feeder canals together with a large bridge over the ChacBangCanal north of Thoi Binh town. South of the Chac Bang Canal the new road will form a bypass around Thoi Binh and then run parallel to the Trem River ending at an intersection with the Khanh An IZ access road.
- Most of the road will be constructed on agricultural and shrimp farming land except where it crosses canals with houses along the banks. The total length of Option 2 is approximately 71 km. Option 2 is more costly than Option 1 but offers the advantages of providing a shorter route between Thu Bay and Ca Mau and much improved connectivity between Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces and intra-provincial connectivity among districts. Option 2 also conforms to the Mekong Development Plan described below. The economic analysis showed that Option 2 is the more feasible of the two routes and therefore Option 2 has been incorporated into the SCCP.
- Town bypasses. Traffic levels increase significantly in the town centres along the corridor due to additional local traffic. The roads through most towns are narrow and there is high side friction from pedestrians, markets, commercial activities and parking which causes congestion, delays, increased noise and air pollution. It will be extremely disruptive and costly to widen the roads through town centres and the most practical solution is to construct limited access bypasses to carry corridor traffic around towns.
- MOT has proposed bypasses around Kien Luong, Hon Dat, Soc Son, Rach Gia, An Bien (under construction), ThuBay (part under construction) and An Minh. Of these, Hon Dat, Soc Son, Rach Gia, ThuBay and An Minh bypasses are included in the SCCP. The bypass scheme proposed for Kien Luong is very costly and cannot be justified in traffic or economic terms. In the short to medium term, low-cost road safety and traffic management measures will be sufficient.
- Rach Gia Bypass. A bypass around the Rach Gia – Rach Soi conurbation will be required but MOT’s preliminary design for 17km bypass on the east side of the Rach Gia – Ha Tien Canal only carries traffic around the conurbation and does not show any road connections to the urban street network. This bypass will be very costly, involving construction of 6 large bridges and 11 small bridges not counting connections across the Rach Gia – Ha Tien Canal to the street network. It is proposed that this bypass be included in the SCCP but a comprehensive urban traffic planning study is required before the scope of the bypass project can be determined.
- GMS-SCC extension to QL1A. Ca Mau city has prepared an urban development plan which includes construction of a ring road around the city. The last section of Option 2 to the Khanh AN IZ access road forms part of the ring road. The plan shows the ring road continuing from this intersection another 9.3km to join QL1A south of Ca Mau city. The city plans to create an industrial park along this section of the ring road and relocate industries presently situated near the airport along QL1A east of the city. The extension will connect the GMS-SCC with QL1A and with Nam Can port, situated 52km south of Ca Mau at the end of QL1A.
- The proposed SCCP sections and total road lengths are summarized in Table 3.
Table 3. SCCP Road Sections
|Country||Road No.||End Points||Length, km|
|Cambodia||NR33||Kampot – Kampong Trach||36.4|
|NR33||Kampong Trach – Chak Preak||15.1|
|NR33||Chak Preak Cross Border Facility Cambodia||–|
|Viet Nam||QL80||Xa Xia Cross Border Facility Viet Nam||–|
|New||Rach Gia Bypass||17.7|
|QL61||Rach Gia Bypass – Minh Luong (no improvement)||4.7|
|QL63||Minh Luong – An Bien – ThuBay||18.6|
|QL63||Tac Cau Bypass||6.3|
|TL7||Thu Bay – NgaBacCanal||28.9|
|New||Nga Bac Canal – Thoi Binh – Ca Mau Industrial Zone||41.5|
|New||Ca Mau Industrial Zone – QL1A||9.3|
|Subtotal Viet Nam||218.0|
b. New Roads Versus Widening Existing Roads
- The preliminary designs prepared by MOT for improving QL80, QL63 and TL7 call for realigning and widening the existing roadway. The TA has evaluated these schemes and concluded it is impractical to reconstruct existing roads with ribbon development along most of their length to a full Class III – 60km/h or 80km/h geometric standard involving horizontal and vertical realignment and widening of the roadway. Instead, it is recommended that those roads be widened to a Class III cross-section on their existing alignment, with widening carried out on the land side of road sections running a longside canals in order to minimize the relocation of the large number of households living on the canal bank. The SCCP has been prepared on this basis.
- However, the resettlement plans subsequently prepared for these road improvement schemes reveal that the number of affected households and land acquisition costs will still be extremely high. Using sample data, a comparison was made with constructing a new road on a parallel alignment 500m of so from the existing road on agricultural land. Construction costs are obviously higher but there are significant savings in land acquisition and relocation costs, and it is possible the total cost will be less than widening the existing road. The advantages in terms of road level of service and impacts on communities and the environment are self-evident. The comparison made with sample data is not conclusive and therefore it is recommended that preparation and loan processing of the SCCP should proceed on the basis of the road widening schemes, but that options for constructing a parallel roads on densely-populated sections of the corridor be evaluated at the start of the civil works preparation activities prior to proceeding with detailed engineering design.
c. Road Operations and Maintenance
- Kien Giang Provincial Department of Transport (PDOT) presently has responsibility for operation, maintenance and improvement of QL80, QL61 and QL63 sections in Kien Giang province. This responsibility, together with budgets for development and recurrent activities, has been delegated to them by the Viet Nam Road Administration (VRA) which is the highway authority for all national highways. Kien Giang also is responsible for Provincial Road TL7. Regional Road Maintenance Unit 7 (RRMU7), which comes under the VRA, is responsible for the section of QL63 in Ca Mau province.
- Following completion of the SCCP a higher, uniform standard of operations and maintenance will be required to preserve road assets and enforce traffic and right-of-way regulations in order to achieve the full economic, road safety and environmental benefits of the investment. Responsibility should not remain fragmented among several agencies and it is recommended that full responsibility for the completed roads (QL80, QL63, TL7 and the new road between the NgaBacCanal and Ca Mau) be handed over to RMMU7 and that sufficient budgets for effective operations and maintenance be provided by MOT.
d. Related Economic and Transport Developments
- During the period 2001-2005 Viet Nam’s economy recorded a relatively high growth rate of about 7.5% p.a.. Industry achieved particularly high growth, much higher than in the previous five years reflecting a continuation in the shift in the economic structure toward industrialization and modernization. Industry and construction grew at a rate of 10.3%, services at 7% and agriculture, forestry and fisheries at 3.6% p.a.. The Mekong Delta region’s output, ranking third in the country, accounts for 15% of Viet Nam’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the intensity of agricultural output is second only to the Red River Delta region. The Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Socioeconomic Development Plan 2005-2010 has forecasted GDP growth in the Mekong Delta region at 9% p.a. or 1.2 times that planned for the country as a whole, with industry and construction increasing at 10% to 10.5% p.a.
- Within the area directly affected by the SCCP, the GDP of Kien Giang and Ca Mau each increased at rates of 12% p.a. during the period 2002-2005. Forecasts of future economic growth in the two provinces is greater than projections for the Mekong Delta as a whole. i.e. 13% p.a. for Kien Giang and 12% p.a. for Ca Mau to 2010 and increasing further to 2015. As a result, traffic throughout the corridor is expected to continue to increase, driven by economic development in several sectors in the GMS-SCC area.
- A key focus in the Mekong Delta region is the exploitation of gas reserves in the southwestern sea with a view to establishing a major gas-power-fertilizer industry. The Khanh An IZ is under development on a 360ha site on the TremRiver 7km west of Ca Mau city. Two gas-fed power plants are under construction with an output capacity of 750MW and a chemical fertilizer plant producing 800,000t annually is planned to serve the agriculture sector in the region. The Khanh An IZ will depend on the GMS-SCC for distributing its output to markets.
- The Government’s plan for development of transport and communications facilities in the Mekong Delta is outlined in a decision issued by the Prime Minister on December 2006  . It summarizes the Government’s detailed objectives to 2010 and direction to 2020 for development of national highways, inland waterways, marine transport infrastructure and airports in the Mekong area south of Ho Chi Minh City. An earlier Prime Minister’s decision in September 2005 outlines similar objectives to 2010 and direction to 2020 for development of sea ports in the Mekong Delta area  . Several road, inland waterway, port and airport projects contained in the Prime Minister’s decisions impact Ca Mau and Kien Giang provinces and re-enforce the SCCP as shown in Table 4. NamCamPort at the end of QL1A south of Ca Mau is to be developed and is expected to generate traffic on the GMS-SCC.
- The Ho Chi Minh Highway (HCMH) is planned to cross of the MekongRiver (Hau Branch) at Vam Cong, the present QL80 crossing, and connect with the GMS-SCC at the north end of the Rach Gia Bypass. In previous plans the HCMH from Rach Gia to Ca Mau city was to take a route following QL61 to Go Quao, then a new road connection to QL63 at Vinh Thuan, and improvement of QL63 to Ca Mau city (part of Option 1). The MOT has now agreed the HCMH will follow the GMS-SCC from Rach Gia to Ca Mau following Option 2).
Table 4. Mekong Delta Region Transport Projects Affecting GMS-SCC
|Project||Impact on SCCP||Completion By|
|QL1||Improvement of Can Tho – Ca Mau – Nam Can sections will connect Nam Can port with the GMS-SCC||2008|
|N1 Highway||Construction of Ha Tien – Tinh Bien – Chau Doc sections will link the GMS-SCC with areas of growing tourism||2010|
|HCM Highway||Construction of Vam Cong – Rach Gia sections will connect HCMH to the GMS-SCC||2010|
|QL61||Improvement of Minh Luong – Tan Phu (QL1A) will connect Kien Giang and Hau Giang provinces||2008|
|Inland Waterways||Improvement of HCMC – Kien Luong – Ha Tien waterway via Don Thap Muoi and HCMC – Bac Lieu – Ca Mau waterway will support economic development in Kien Giang and Ca Mau provinces||2009|
|Nam Can Port||Improvement of port infrastructure to handle ships up to 10,000 DWT and 3 million t/yr will generate traffic for the GMS-SCC||2010|
|Hon Chong Port (Kien Giang)||Development of facilities for cement handling will support economic development in Kien Giang||2010|
|Can Tho Airport||Improvement of aircraft handling facilities to accommodate A321 and B767 types (wide-body jet) will support economic development in Mekong Delta region||2007|
|Rach Gia and Ca MauAirports||Improvement of passenger and aircraft handling facilities to accommodate ATR72 and Fokker 70 types (narrow-body jet) will support economic development in Kien Giang and Ca Mau||2010|
- The Mekong Transport Infrastructure Development Project  (funded by World Bank) will improve waterways, national highways and provincial roads in the Mekong Delta region. None of the SCCP road sections is included but improvements are proposed for the Song Trem – SongCaiLonCanal which runs alongside a section of QL63 and TL7. It also identifies the requirement either to widen QL80 between Rach Soi and the Vam Cong ferry or to construct a parallel road (likely to be the HCMH).
 Highway Specification For Design, TCVN 4054-2005
 2X3.5m carriageway, 2x2m sealed shoulder, 2×0.5m unsealed shoulder on 12m foundation.
 12m foundation, 2x2m embankment slope and 2x3m clear area. A >2m slope is required for high embankments. Exact dimensions will be determined during the detailed design.
 Referred alternatively as the CaiBatCanal on many maps.
 Decision No. 344/2005/QD-TTg, 26 December 2005.
 Decision No. 1024/2005/QD-TTg, 27 September 2006
 Mekong Transport Infrastructure Development Project, Interim Report, The Louis Berger Group Inc. in association with Royal Haskoning, October 2005