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Speeches & Transcripts September 2, 2018

Speech by Mr. Ousmane Dione Country Director of the World Bank Vietnam at the Opening Ceremony Of Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway Project

Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng,

Mr. Nguyễn Văn Thể, Minister of Transport,

Leaders of the Party, the central Government ministries and provinces,

People of Da Nang city, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning, xin chào!

It could not have been a better occasion than the 73-year anniversary of Vietnam to make Opening Ceremony for the Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway. Today is the National Day of Vietnam, and I am sure that all of us here are very proud of this great country. I am honored and privileged, because “Tôi là người Viet Nam”!

On this very special day, I would like to congratulate the Government of Vietnam, the Ministry of Transport, Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC), and especially the people of three provinces - Da Nang, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai for the opening of the first ever expressway in the Central region of Vietnam. Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng, five years ago, under the government’s leadership, we embarked on the ground breaking of this important project and today, we witness the opening of the full length of expressway, from Da Nang to Quang Ngai for operational use.  

Let me start by noting that Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway is one of the prioritized sections of the strategic North-South Expressway for which the Government of Vietnam has mobilized state and ODA resources over the last few years. The project will help enhance the inter-regional connectivity for the Central Region of Vietnam, thereby contributing to the development of the economic corridor along the central coast and overall social - economic development in the region. The World Bank is pleased to have supported this important project in the expressway sector with a total financing of USD 613 million. I would like to highlight that this IBRD-financed transport has enabled high quality international standard design, civil works and supervision. In terms of implementation efficiency, I am pleased to report that through competitive tendering processes, the project came under budget for civil works by about $50 million and was completed on time. This reflects that if projects are planned, prepared and implemented well, they can be cost-efficient and effective for the Government and can serve as a model for future development of expressway sector in Vietnam.

Our joint hard work pays off. First and foremost, the new expressway offers tremendous economic benefit by reducing substantially travel time between core economic centers in the region. Currently, the average travel speed on National Route A1 is 40 km per hour, making it 3 hours and 15 minutes to travel between Da Nang and Quang Ngai. With the new expressway, the travel time now decreases to only 1 hour and 25 minutes, which significantly improves travel and transport efficiency. I am also pleased to note that the new expressway meets important requirements such as minimization of flood sections, reduction in flood induced traffic jams, and improvement of the regional road transportation system, particularly by: i) providing safe and secured transportation for high speed and heavy vehicles, and ii) institutional strengthening to adequately manage the expressway system.

Looking at a broader socio-economic perspective, the new expressway benefits more than two million citizens of Da Nang, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces by improved regional connectivity, hence would help enhancing production, trade, tourism and other economic activities. More specifically, the project will contribute to the government’s goal to develop a self-sustainable industrial economy in the central region in the following three areas:

  1. Connecting high-tech industries in Da Nang, Tam Ky, and Quang Ngai - specifically, Da Nang High-Tech Park, Chu Lai Special Economic Zone, and the Dung Quat Economic Industrial Zone;
  2. Integrating the regional tourism industry that hosts World Cultural Heritage sites at Hue, Hoi An, and My Son; and
  3. Enhancing the potential in marine tourism

Furthermore, with the vital geographical location of the central region, the opening of Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway would contribute significantly to the sub-regional agenda and integration, so dear to the Prime Minister. Indeed, the expressway would be a backbone link to the development of the Cambodia – Laos – Myanmar - Vietnam Strategic Corridor, enabling the full utilization of the Tien Sa deep sea port.

Deputy Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Going forward, I see the need for putting in place a well-functioning and efficient operation and maintenance mechanism, as well as improving connectivity with existing roads, railways, sea ports, airports infrastructure so as to materialize full social - economic potentials of Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway. I would also encourage VEC to leverage on its accumulated experience and to enhance further its financial capacity to play an even more important role in the strategic national North-South Expressway Program.

The Government’s vision of priority and quality infrastructure projects including the north south expressway program, railway sector development, inland waterways and multi-modal connectivity is an important foundation for connecting this linear country to be increasingly integrated with the region and rest of the world. While the government has made a remarkable progress in developing key transport infrastructure utilizing state and ODA resources, there remain large investment needs to further enhance connectivity and sustain growth. We believe that it would be important to capitalize on the potential of private sector participation in capital investment projects of national priorities. At the World Bank, we are advising the government on the strategy to create a sustainable mechanism to attract commercial capital and enhance private sector participation in development of infrastructure, under the “maximize financing for development” framework. We stand ready, through a national infrastructure platform, to support the government in adapting this framework to national priority investment programs, including the North-South Expressway, railway development and inland waterways in the Mekong region.

Deputy Prime Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The opening of the Da Nang – Quang Ngai Expressway today magnified our strategic partnership to support the government’s efforts in reducing living standard gaps between regions. It also reflects and translates the continuity to implement the visions of President Ho Chi Minh, who declared the independence of the country on this day 73 years ago, to always serve Vietnam, and not to be served by Vietnam.

I would like to express my appreciation to the Ministry of Transport, Vietnam Expressway Corporation, Supervision Consultants and Contractors, for your endless efforts to timely complete the Da Nang - Quang Ngai Expressway. A very special thanks to the people of Da Nang city, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces for their strong support and cooperation in land acquisition and resettlement activities.  Let me also thank the Government of Japan, through JICA, for your co-financing provided to the project.

In closing, this new expressway, through the movement of people and goods will contribute to an everlasting independence, freedom and much more happiness to all Vietnamese People.

Happy National Day of Vietnam!

Thank you, xin cảm ơn!