Rach Mieu Bridge to open new chances for Ben Tre's investment promotion

The people of Ben Tre and other Southern provinces have just celebrated the 32nd anniversary of the Liberation Day, which is also the day the country was reunited 32 years ago (April 30, 1975 -  April 30, 2007).

For Ben Tre's people, in particular, this year's April 30 also is a very special day. It marks the 5th year the Rach Mieu Bridge project connecting Ben Tre and Tien Giang provinces was kicked start. To many, the Rach Mieu Bridge is also meant to leverage Ben Tre's economy to a faster and stronger pace of development, once it is finished and put into use at the end of this year.

At a conference during the New Lunar Year of Dinh Hoi, Mr Huynh Van Be, Secretary of Ben Tre's Communist Party Committee, said that he had been asked by many of the business folks about when the Rach Mieu Bridge would be finished. He said, that meant not only were the people of Ben Tre concerned of the bridge going into use, but business circles, domestic and foreign alike, also longed for its formation.

Mr Chaiyapong Vechamamontien, Chairman of the Alliance One Apparel Company, a 100% Thai-invested enterprise in the Giao Long Industrial Park, said at the ground-breaking ceremony of the company's factory in February: “When the Province's transportation is really good, that is, the Rach Mieu Bridge is finished, and the business here is better, our company is going to expand more.” In the first phase of its project, Alliance One invests US$18 million into factories to outsource garment products for big multinationals such as Adidas and Nike. In the second phase, the company plans to increase investment cap to US$30 million, making it the biggest Thai investor in Ben Tre.

To date, 60% of the construction value (the total investment cap for Rach Mieu Bridge is VND988 billion, of which VND780.6 billion is marked as construction value) have been carried out, according to a report by Mr Vu Quoc Minh, Vice Director of the B.O.T. Rach Mieu Co., Ltd.

Unlike many other bridges, the Rach Mieu faced two big hurdles right at its starting point. One was the lack of investment cap, and the other was the lack of experiences in building a suspending bridge, for this was the first time Vietnamese engineers and bridge developers designed and carried out the project by themselves.

After lots of efforts, the problem of investment cap is now resolved. The investment cap for the Rach Mieu project is structured as follows: the Government budget subsidy accounts for 60% of the total amount, and 40% is the B.O.T. Rach Mieu company's share, of which VND292 billion is bank loan.

The problem of suspending engineering has also been resolved with the help from the Ministry of Transportation by its approval for the B.O.T. Rach Mieu company to choose VSL, the Swiss consultant firm, to supply the materials and equipment, and to support with expertise in suspending engineering.

At the last Tet conference, the B.O.T. leadership and work contractors all pledged to fulfilled the works in time so that the bridge could be technically inaugurated on December 30, 2007 and put into use before the Tet Holidays of 2008.

It's furiously hot under the burning sun of April, at the climax of the South's dry season, and on the Rach Mieu Bridge works, hundreds of workers of the Bridge Company No 12 and Bridge Company No 14, affiliated to the CIENCO 1, are working hard to install scaffoldings preparing for concretizing the K0 moduls on both the T18 and T19 towers, 40m over the water surface of the Tien River.

Mr Nguyen Tien Tan, an engineering manager who supervises the the works for the T19 tower, says that the workers here have done 60-70% of the work load assigned by the B.O.T. company.

Mr Minh explains: “The 40% remaining works chiefly include constructing the K0 moduls, cabling, and asphalting the bridge surface. To make it clearer for beginning readers about what a K0 modul is, Mr Minh explains it simply: "The girder for hooking up suspending cables to the towers lying above the horizontal bar of each tower are marked with professional terms as K0, K1, K2, etc. Concretizing the K0, K1, K2", on both towers connects them together in pairs so the towers be connected, which is seen as the very great event for every bridge, for the work makes it into real formation. That is also the event that the river banks are actually traversed.

Mr Minh, who has been working in the bridge building business for 27 years, shows great joy upon working on the Rach Mieu project. He says, nowhere else do the people show such a great sentiment to the bridge workers like the people in Ben Tre do. Last Dinh Hoi Tet holidays, all workers on the Rach Mieu project works were visited and given the Tet gifts by the provincial leadership as well as local people. This is a very great encouragement to the workers who are working far away from home during such a inviolable traditional holidays as Tet. Mr Minh says, they have pledged to push the works fast forward to finish it by the end of this year.

Translated by Truong Hung

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