Transport infrastructure development key to Mekong Delta growth

06:00 | 21/05/2022 Society

(VEN) - The Communist Party and the government are forging ahead with plans to enhance the Mekong Delta’s rapid, sustainable growth and boost the region’s prosperity and development.

Largest food producer, exporter

The Mekong Delta boasts huge potential and advantages for agricultural development and is one of the largest, most fertile plains in Southeast Asia in particular, and the world in general. It is Vietnam’s largest producer and exporter of ​​food, aquatic products, and fruits – contributing about 50 percent of rice output, 95 percent of rice exports, nearly 65 percent ​​of aquaculture production, 60 percent of fish exports and nearly 70 percent of all fruits.

transport infrastructure development key to mekong delta growth
Harvesting rice in Can Tho

The Mekong Delta’s rice output has increased from 4.5 million tonnes in 1976 to nearly 25 million tonnes.

In 2017, the prime minister issued Resolution 120 to promote the Mekong Delta’s climate-smart sustainable development, which set goals to 2050 and a vision to 2100 for the region’s prosperity and safe, sustainable development.

Policies for the region were improved, focusing on sustainable agricultural development and modernization, urban and transport infrastructure development, population stabilization, planning development, public investment, solving urgent welfare problems, and international cooperation.

Notably, the rate of investment capital for the Mekong Delta increased from 12.2 percent of total investment in the country in the 2011-2015 period to 16.53 percent in the 2016-2020 period.

World Bank and development partners have so far provided the Mekong Delta with development assistance worth US$2.48 billion (roughly VND57.4 trillion).

The government is considering a US$1.05-billion (VND24.302 trillion) support program for the Mekong Delta’s climate change adaptation and sustainable development. Particularly, the Ministry of Transport has proposed 38 investment projects totaling VND94.5 trillion for the Mekong Delta in the 2021-2025 period.

New development goals

Economist Dr. Tran Huu Hiep said that with a total area of 40,400 square kilometers, the Mekong Delta has major potential and advantages for agricultural development and has been attracting investment in different fields. However, the region’s transport infrastructure, which remains incommensurate with the potential, is hindering Mekong Delta localities from bringing into play the region’s strengths and competitive advantages, Hiep said. Other problems facing the region include the amount of flood water from the Mekong River, which decreased 30-40 percent compared to previous years, the climate change impact on sea levels and saltwater intrusion, he added.

transport infrastructure development key to mekong delta growth
The Trung Luong-My Thuan Highway

Nguyen Phuong Lam, Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in Can Tho, said that infrastructure is a major challenge for the Mekong Delta. The region's logistics sector needs investment in cold chain technology and lacks package service providers, while seaport and river port infrastructure remains small-scale and of poor quality. The inadequate transportation infrastructure has led to high logistics costs, reducing the competitiveness of goods, Lam said.

In February 2022, the government issued Decision 287/QD-TTg approving a 2021-2030 master plan for the Mekong Delta, with a vision to 2050. The plan will develop the Mekong Delta into a major agricultural center, increase the contribution of aquatic products and fruits and decrease that of rice to the region’s economic structure. Under the plan, the Mekong Delta will achieve economic growth of 6.5 percent per annum, and about 830km of expressway, 4,000km of national highway, four airports, 13 seaports, 11 passenger ports and 13 inland waterway cargo ports will be built by 2030. The Mekong Delta is set to become a clean energy center utilizing the region’s solar radiation capacity of 1,387-1,534kWh/year and wind energy equivalent of 1,200-1,500mW/year along the region’s coasts. New coal-fired power plants will not be developed in the region by 2030.

Ngoc Thao