Vietnam starts final section of $59bn North-South Expressway

The Friendship Pass to China’s Guangxi Province was the traditional marker for Vietnam’s northern border, and the northern terminus of the Expressway (TSVC1190/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Vietnam broke ground this week on the 60km stretch of highway in the north of the country that will complete its historic $59bn North-South expressway.

The $430m section runs north from the district of Chi Lang to the Chinese border town of Dong Dang.

Just over the border in China is the “Friendship Pass” gate that marks the border between the two countries.

When complete, it will be the end of an immense project conceived in 2016 and begun in 2019 to replace the famous Route 1 – the “Street without Joy” – with a modern motorway.

It will have four lanes in mountainous regions and up to 10 in the 32 cities it links.

Vietnamese prime minister Pham Minh Chinh said the section would connect the Red River Delta and the northern mountainous region to China and the wider ASEAN region, Vietnamnet reports.

The entire expressway will run for 2,110km through 32 provinces, from the northernmost mountains of Lang Son to the southernmost delta of Ca Mau.

It will improve transportation for 62% of the country’s population, connecting 16 of its airports, three-quarters of its seaports, and 75% of its special economic zones, Vietnamnet said.

The expressway was split into many sub-projects, and a number of procurement methods were used.

So far, the project has been notable for the absence of delays, with Vietnamese project management boards at times demanding that contractors work three shifts in a day to meet completion deadlines. 

The northern section to China is being built using the build–operate–transfer model. The state is providing 45% of the total investment, with the remainder coming from a consortium of investors by Ho Chi Minh City-based Deoca Group.

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