Communist Review - Infrastructure in general and transport infrastructure in particular are the physical foundation that plays a particularly important role in a country's socio-economic development. Having a synchronous, modern and connected transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of transporting goods and passengers is the prerequisite for a rapid, stable and sustainable growth. The rapid development of transport infrastructure under the motto "one step ahead" is an urgent requirement of reality in order to remove congestion and facilitate a rapid breakthrough in the process of constructing a synchronous infrastructure of the country.
Orientations to develop a synchronous and modern transport infrastructure and promote socio-economic development
Implementing Decision No. 355/QD-TTg, dated February 25, 2013 by the Prime Minister on approval of the adjustment of the Viet Nam Transport Development Strategy to 2020 with a vision to 2030 and the plans for the development of the transport industry, in recent years the Party, State and the society have paid great attention to making investment in the development of transportation in which the transport infrastructure system has witnessed a strong transformation. Transport quality is increasingly improved, basically meeting the requirements of socio-economic development, ensuring national defense and security, improving people's lives, contributing to hunger eradication and poverty reduction, shortening the distance between regions and areas. Some modern traffic works, such as highways, international seaports, international airports, etc. have met regional and international standards, contributing to creating a new look for the country.
However, in reality, the transport infrastructure system still remains limited, far from being synchronous and modern, and has yet to meet the requirements of socio-economic development of the country.
The 2011-2020 socio-economic development strategy, approved by the XI National Congress (January 2011) of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, stated, “Infrastructure still remains a block to development”. One of the socio-economic development orientations, renewing growth model and restructuring economy, identified by the strategy is “to rapidly develop infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure; to basically shape a synchronous infrastructure system, with a number of modern projects serving as a strategic breakthrough to promote socio-economic development and economic restructuring”.
In order to implement the 2011-2020 socio-economic development strategy, the Fourth Congress of the XI Party Central Committee approved Resolution No. 13-NQ/TW, dated January 16, 2012 on constructing a synchronous infrastructure system to basically turn our country into a modern-oriented industrial country by 2020. The resolution sets out the goal of "focusing on mobilizing all resources to basically deal with congestion, overload and step by step forming a relatively synchronous system of socio-economic infrastructure with a number of modern projects”. In particular, the development of infrastructure is one of the four key areas to meet the requirement for “ensuring the connection of major economic centers with each other and with gateway traffic hubs by a uniform traffic system, enhanced transportation capacity, and smooth and safe transport”.
With the aim of continuing to create resources to develop transport infrastructure, the XII National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam – CPV (January 2016) affirmed the policy of continuing to effectively implement the three breakthroughs in the socio-economic development strategy up to 2020, in which attention should be paid to “promoting the implementation of the strategic breakthrough of building synchronous infrastructure systems with a number of modern projects, ensuring the integration and systematic efficiency, especially in the traffic network”. In order to make a breakthrough in the construction of transport infrastructure, the resolution of the Congress clearly states, “concentrating resources to invest in the construction of major and essential projects, especially in the areas with potential for development and at the same time dealing with bottlenecks and overloads; ensuring smooth connection between major economic centers, gateway traffic hubs with huge transport demand; paying attention to making investment in transport infrastructure in areas of difficulty”.
The above-mentioned Party's resolutions and strategies are both an objective and an orientation for the development of transport infrastructure of the transport industry.
Current investment and development situation of transport infrastructure system
Concretizing the views and directions of the CPV on the development of modern and synchronous transport infrastructure, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 355/QD-TTg and adjusted transportation development planning of all 5 sectors namely road, railway, inland waterway, aviation, and sea. In particular, the planning of modern and synchronously connected traffic works includes (1) national highway network connecting key North-South economic centers, border gates, international seaports and airports, urban belt roads with great transport demand with a total length of 6,411km; (2) the North-South high speed railway and the urban railway system in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; (3) the international gateway seaports in the north, centre, and the South (Lach Huyen port, Van Phong port and Cai Mep - Thi Vai port); (4) planning the flight route network according to the model of fan spokes with high frequency of exploitation, with 2 modern terminals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; (5) scientific management of urban traffic, using modern technology such as camera and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).
In addition to the investment in a number of projects to ensure social security, hunger eradication and poverty reduction, after seven years implementing various resolutions, strategies, and plans, the transport infrastructure systems have witnessed many important achievements. Many large and modern transportation projects have gradually been under construction, helping create a new look for the country, shaping connections between domestic regions and international ones.
Regarding roads, 1,041km of expressways have been put into operation. More than 160 km have been under construction. Procedures have gone through in order to build an additional 654 km of North-South expressway in the East (under the National Assembly’s Resolution No. 52/2017/QH14 dated on November 22, 2017); 40km expressway from Lang Son city to Huu Nghi border gate (Dong Dang); 92km of Van Don - Mong Cai expressway. In regard of aviation, there have been breakthroughs in terms of both size and quality of service, promptly responding to the boom in air transport demand in recent years with an average growth rate of 16 % - 18% per year. The airports of Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat, and Da Nang have been upgraded. New airports of Phu Quoc and Van Don have been built, bringing the total airport network capacity to about 90 million passengers/ year, 2.5 times higher than 2011. The study report on the feasibility of phase 1 Long Thanh international airport project was also approved by the National Assembly of Viet Nam.
Completing the construction of Cai Mep - Thi Vai and Lach Huyen international gateway ports, capable of receiving large vessels from 130,000 tons to 200,000 tons (DWT) going straight to the west coast of the United States, Canada and Europe; the passenger ports in Phu Quoc and Ha Long capable of receiving the world's largest passenger ships; upgrading and renovating key ports in Nghi Son, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Khanh Hoa and Can Tho, bringing the total capacity of the ports from 420 million tons (in 2011) to about 580 million tons per year; upgrading the main waterways including 1,082km in the Mekong River Delta and 462 km in the Northern Delta, improving the transport capacity.
Currently, the Ministry of Transport is coordinating with the People's Committee of Hanoi, and the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City to focus on implementing 5 urban railway projects. The ministry has carried out the projects of improving weak bridges and traffic light systems; reinforced and repaired railway tunnels and other essential infrastructure items, thereby improving safety levels, shortening the North – South railway duration. At present, it is focusing on implementing important and urgent railway projects with a view to improving the ability to exploit and safely operate the North-South railway and completing the pre-feasibility study on the high speed North-South railway to submit to the National Assembly for approval in 2020.
Urban traffic has been gradually improved, upgraded and expanded, especially in big cities, contributing to reduce congestion of passengers and goods. Attention has been paid to radial traffic axes, ring roads, isolated intersections at major intersections, urban bypass routes, especially ring roads of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, key works in each area (big bridges namely Nhat Tan, Vinh Thinh, Cao Lanh, Vam Cong, Nam Can, Co Chien, My Loi, Cai Tat, An Huu, Rach Soi). The Ministry of Transport has coordinated with the People's Committee of Hanoi and the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City to implement urban railway projects. Quality of service, especially transport services has also been constantly improved, ensuring better response to the people's travel needs, promoting production and business development, contributing to curbing inflation, stabilizing the macro-economy, ensuring social security, thereby enhancing the economy's competitiveness.
Implementing the resolutions of the Party and the Government, the Ministry of Transport has timely executed projects, resulting in enormous changes in the transport infrastructure system of the country. Traffic infrastructure system capacity has been significantly improved. According to the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), during the 2017-2018 review period, the capacity and quality of Viet Nam's infrastructure has continuously increased, from 95th /144 (2011) to 79th /137 (2016), of which the index of the quality of road infrastructure ranked 92nd (up 28 places), seaport ranked 82nd (up 31 places). The National Logistic Capacity Index (LPI) of Viet Nam in 2018 ranked 39th out of 160 countries, up 25 places from 2016 (in 2011 Viet Nam ranked 53rd/155 countries). All LPI evaluation indexes in 2018 increased dramatically, of which the highest increase was service quality capacity (ranked 33rd, up 29 places) and ability to track and trace goods (ranked 34th, up 41 places).
Although many important achievements have been recorded in developing synchronous and modern transport infrastructure, the transport infrastructure system of Viet Nam still remains a bottleneck to the goal of developing towards industrialization and modernization of the country. The new expressway system has been initially formed, yet to reach the target of putting into use about 2,000 km of expressways by 2020. The railway system is outdated, but high speed rail has yet to be built. Only the first lines of the new urban railway system have been built. The seaport system has not been operated to its full capacity. Some airports have been overloaded. Therefore, a synchronous and modern transport infrastructure system has yet to be formed, especially compared with international criteria (i.e. highway network, high speed rail, airports, and key seaports).
One of the main reasons lies in the difficulty of resources, making the investment in the development of transport infrastructure slow compared to the requirements. The existing transport infrastructure system has not been fully and promptly maintained, thus limiting exploitation capacity. According to the 2016-2020 state budget allocation plan, the amount that the Ministry of Transport is allocated only meets over 30% of its needs for development and maintenance work while calling for private investment is still difficult due to the fact that investment in transport infrastructure is risky and the system of legal document is far from synchronous. This is a huge obstacle in the realization of the goals of developing synchronous and modern transport infrastructure with the motto of "one step ahead", creating a premise for national development to 2030.
Developing transport infrastructure under the motto "one step ahead" in a synchronous and modern direction
Science and technology in the world is experiencing positive changes, especially applied technology, energy technology, application software, etc. This has exerted a significant impact on management methods, transport infrastructure investment trends in the world in general and in Viet Nam in particular. That Viet Nam has participated in many bilateral and multilateral agreements on trade, and witnessed deep international integration will have a great impact on the direction of transport infrastructure development. Under the resolutions of the National Assembly and the Government, on the basis of the already allocated medium-term public investment budget, the transport sector has determined that in the period to 2030, investment in infrastructure development should be oriented in a synchronous and modern direction to create a driving force for national development to the goal that by 2030 Viet Nam will become a modern industrial country, have a dynamic economy, develop quickly and sustainably, accelerating the implementation of breakthrough steps in the socio-economic development strategy.
The transportation industry needs to meet the transport demand with a total transport volume of about 2,500 billion tons.km (equivalent to 4.3 billion tons of cargo); 667 billion passengers. The average annual growth rates of cargo transport volume is 6.7%, and of passenger transport volume is 8.2% in the period 2021 – 2030, improving transport quality with reasonable prices, curbing and gradually reducing traffic accidents, limiting environmental pollution, enhancing the application of modern technology in management and exploitation.
Firstly, it is projected that by 2030 over 80% of provinces/cities in the country will have expressways passing through or connected to the administrative center with about 3,500km - 4,000km of expressways, of which investment priority is given to the operation of the North-South expressway from Lang Son to Ca Mau, expressway routes in the main transport corridors, the gateway expressways connecting with Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and big cities, and urban belt highways; a synchronous road system in terms of technical standards, conveniently connected with the ASEAN road system, the Greater Mekong Subregion and trans - Asia.
Secondly, building a number of sections of the North-South high-speed railway, in which priority is given to the sections Hanoi - Vinh, and Ho Chi Minh City - Nha Trang; quickly developing the urban railway network as the core for the development of public passenger transport in big urban centers namely Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; at the same time, synchronously developing transport infrastructure with modern means of transport, management and administration tools and connected with goods distribution centers, large seaports and ICD dry ports.
Thirdly, continuing to investigate into the investment of the remaining ports of Lach Huyen international gateway port, mobilize investment capital for Van Phong international port; continuing to improve the exploitation efficiency of the Cai Mep – Thi Vai international port; continuing to invest in Thi Vai to ensure 200,000-ton ships operating 24 hours, and reserving appropriate land stock behind the port to build a center of distribution, loading and unloading goods and back-port services, conveniently connected with the national traffic network, step by step forming a modern and effective network of logistic transport infrastructure on a par with other countries in the region.
Fourthly, improving the national airport network with a modern scale, complete the expansion of Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports as planned; making an investment in Long Thanh international airport (phase 1) with a role and scale on a par with major international airports in the region. Investing in a modern flight management system, ensuring the coverage of required communication, navigation and surveillance equipment in the entire FIR area of Viet Nam.
Fifthly, continuing to introduce standard technical grade of inland waterway port, ensuring 24 hour ship operation on the main inland waterways; continuing to mobilize capital for investment in waterways with great transport demands; implementing the project of developing waterways and logistic corridors in the South, and mechanizing loading and unloading commodities at inland ports in a modern and effective way.
Sixthly, developing urban traffic in the direction of civilization and modernization, gradually building high-volume passenger transport routes in first class cities, and continuing to invest in the development of urban railway networks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city to ensure the rate of public transport carrying passengers being 40% - 45%.
The transport sector is fully aware that its development mission in the coming years is very heavy. To ensure the completion of the assigned tasks, it is important to continue promoting the development of transport infrastructure, contributing to the implementation of three strategic breakthroughs, promoting socio-economic development and restructuring the economy. The transport sector focuses on the following tasks:
Firstly, it is proposed that the National Assembly and the Government of Viet Nam increase investment in transport infrastructure with the state budget, especially giving priority to key transport projects. It is necessary to keep perfecting mechanisms and policies to attract investments from all economic sectors in the development of transport infrastructure and urge donors to continue providing official development assistance (ODA) for the development of transport infrastructure, especially large and pervasive projects, creating great breakthroughs.
Secondly, reviewing, simplifying, and shortening construction investment procedures to soon implement the projects of investing in transport infrastructure development after they are approved by the National Assembly and the Government of Viet Nam. Reviewing and amending regulations on financial support policies, taxes, prices, fees, charges, and concessions to increase the commerciality of transport projects and user responsibility, ensuring satisfactory interests of the investors. There should be a mechanism to effectively exploit resources from public assets to generate investment capital for the development of transport infrastructure.
Thirdly, studying and perfecting mechanisms and policies on taxes, fees and financial supports in the direction of facilitating the development of public passenger transport, multimodal transport, especially the regulations related to collection, management and usage of road user fees, parking fees, and bus subsidies.
Fourthly, soon completing the system of national sector planning and specialized technical plans serving as the basis for managing and directing investment development, ensuring investment efficiency, balanced and harmonious development between the fields. Accordingly, it is necessary to study, supplement, amend, improve the quality and have a long-term vision for the planning of the transport infrastructure system, ensuring compliance with the national sector planning under the newly promulgated planning law.
Fifthly, revising and amending the land law and strictly enforcing policies and laws on land for transport infrastructure development. At the same time, renewing the policy on land use tax and regulations on support and compensation prices for site clearance, ensuring fairness and flexibility on the basis of market value.
With the attention and drastic direction of the Party and State of Viet Nam, the close coordination of the ministries, branches, and localities, the transport sector will make every effort to complete the task of developing a synchronous and modern transport infrastructure system, shaping a more reasonable, economical, efficient and professional transport structure than that of today, contributing to the goal of early making Viet Nam basically become a modern oriented industrial country in the coming time.