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[UPDATED]Plan to Move Saigon's Electrical Wires Underground Facing Major Delays

[Update Below] In an effort to clear Saigon’s skies, in 2009, city authorities signed off on a plan to move messy electrical wires underground. But the project, scheduled to be completed by 2015, is facing a plethora of technical and financial obstacles.

According to Bui Trung Kien, head of the planning department at Ho Chi Minh City Power Corporation, the plan calls for the burying of more than half of the city’s low and medium-voltage wires, constituting 900 kilometers, by the end of 2015. The plan also calls for wire clearance in outer districts by 2020. 

The project faces financial issues, mainly the fact that it costs five times as much to put power lines underground than it does to hang them above the street. In addition, the low profit margins expected from the project have made it difficult for the city to secure bank loans.

Technical issues are also plaguing the project as workers frequently hit light cables and water pipelines as they dig. Finally, in areas where the city’s sidewalks are small, there’s not enough room to fit all the cables and frames.

This should serve as a reality-check for those who think that Saigon’s first metro project will be completed on schedule. If this is how difficult it is to put wires under sidewalks, imagine what it will be like when they start to dig the underground tunnels in District 1.

[Thanh Nien]

Update 16/8: On Tuesday, the HCM City Power Corporation (EVN HCMC) and five enterprises - Viettel Group, HCM City VNPT (Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group), Saigontourist Cable Television Co Ltd, FPT Telecom Company and HCM City Electric Power Trading Investment Corporation, entered into an agreement to expedite the burying of overhead power lines, phone and television cables.

The agreement aims increase co-ordination between the organizations to ensure that each element of the aforementioned infrastructure is installed together and not piecemeal. Nguyen Anh Vu, head of EVN HCM City's public relations department said that to date, nine out of 20 projects that were targeted for completion this year have been fully implemented, burying 11km of medium-voltage and 19km of low-voltage power lines.

By the end of the 2015, EVN plans to bury 400km of medium-voltage lines and 500km of low-voltage lines in Districts 1 and 3.

The city hopes to have all power lines and communications cables in nearly all districts buried between 2016 and 2020.  


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