|Sand dredged on the Vàm Cỏ Đông River in the southwestern province of Tây Ninh, some 100km from HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Đức Hoảnh|
For instance, a contractor of the Bến Lức-Long Thành Highway said that only half of the road foundation had been built; some 80,000 cubic metres of sand are missing to complete the project’s foundation.
“We are having a headache due to sand scarcity. Foundation sand was VNĐ120,000 (US$5.2) per cubic metre, now it has risen to more than VNĐ200,000 ($8.7) per cubic metre,” he said.
Nguyễn Ngọc Sơn, acting director of the A1 of HCM City-Trung Lương Highway said that the contractor has found ways to connect with other sand providers, but there is still not enough sand and progress has been delayed.
“The sand scarcity started two months ago. The project has been behind schedule at least one month. The contractor’s financial plan is also affected, because the sand price stated in the construction contract was only VNĐ100,000 ($4.3). We have submitted petitions to investors to call for support,” he said.
The Government wants to limit sand extraction because some companies have been overexploiting sand, damaging the environment. Using artificial sand is an alternative for road building, being discussed in some areas.
Sand scarcity has also threatened the deadline of Lộ Tẻ-Rạch Sỏi road, a key project that is expected to enhance connections with the southwestern economic hub to foster socio-economic growth of the Mekong Delta region.
Nguyễn Ngọc Toan, deputy general director of Cửu Long Corporation for Investment, Development and Project Management of Infrastructure (CIPM), said the road foundation needs large amounts of sand. He said the total sand reserve licensed to be exploited in the southwestern region is about 2.25 million cubic metres per year, while the demand has surged to 8 to 10 million cubic metres per year.
“Licensed sand reserves meets 30 per cent of real demand only. According to our estimate, the Lộ Tẻ-Rạch Sỏi project must mobilise two million cubic metres of sand within ten months, equal to 6,000 to 7,000 cubic metres per day. However, we have only 1,000 to 2,000 cubic metres per day,” he said.
According to Toan, many contractors have to deposit money in advance, accept capital loss and buy sand at a higher price than listed in the contract to accelerate progress. However, they still cannot buy enough sand to meet their needs.
Vũ Tuấn Anh, deputy head of the Public-Private Partnership Department under the Ministry of Transport, said that the sand scarcity results in surging sand prices. For example, the price publicised by Tiền Giang Province in March, 2017 was VNĐ200,000-250,000 ($8.7-10.8) per cubic metre of yellow sand. Contractors now have to buy sand at VNĐ400,000-500,000 ($17.3-21) per cubic metre.
The ministry will ask the provinces of An Giang, Tiền Giang and Cần Thơ to publish the real price based on updated conditions, he said. — VNS