Major orientations for investment and development of key traffic infrastructure works from 2021 to 2025

Member of Party’s Central Committee, Minister of Transport
Tuesday, June 7, 2022 15:20

Communist Review - Over the past time, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) has focused on completing long-term national transportation planning to orient investment in traffic infrastructure development. From 2021 through 2025, the MoT has prioritized investment in key projects with breakthroughs and immediate effects to promptly remove “bottlenecks” and connect transportation infrastructure between regions, dynamic economic zones, seaports, and gateway airports to build a synchronous and modern transportation infrastructure system and create a breakthrough for the national economy.

Leaders of Dong Nai province and related units committed to Politburo Member, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to implement the Long Thanh International Airport project on schedule, July 21, 2020) _Photo: VNA

Overview of Vietnam's traffic infrastructure

Transport infrastructure (TI) plays a crucial role in socio-economic growth. A good TI helps promote regional links and cooperation, connect regional and inter-regional markets with national and international markets, exploit and concretize local economic potentials, increase investment efficiency, develop production and business, and so forth. Taking into consideration this importance, in its Ten-year socio-economic development Strategy for 2021 - 2030, the 13th National Congress indicated that “it is necessary to develop a synchronous and modern economic and social infrastructure with a focus on key transport infrastructure”(1).

Since the country entered the Doi Moi period, especially in the past 10 years, the TI system has made significant progress, thus enabling socio-economic growth and increasing national competitiveness, and promoting international economic integration.

Road transport: A flexible and efficient mode of transport for medium and short distances (<300km). In the past time, several modern and important roads have been put into operation, such as the expansion of National Highway 1 and Ho Chi Minh Road (the section through the Central Highlands provinces); exploitation of 1,163km of expressways, including many expressways connecting with Hanoi capital(2), Ho Chi Minh City(3); inter-regional expressways(4); expressways connecting gateway seaports (Tan Vu - Lach Huyen); some large bridges (Bach Dang, Cao Lanh, Vam Cong); big tunnels (Cu Mong, Deo Ca);

Maritime transportation: a main mode of transport in import-export(5). To date, the TI system has formed a number of gateway ports combined with international transshipment that successfully transferred containers from 132,000DWT to 214,000DWT, such as Lach Huyen port (Hai Phong city), Cai Mep (Ba Ria - Vung Tau province); large-scale specialized ports serving industrial parks, metallurgical complexes, refineries and petrochemicals, coal-fired thermal power centers accommodate ships up to 300,000DWT, liquid cargo up to 150,000DWT (products ships), crude oil up to 320,000DWT,...

Inland waterways transport: An efficient mode of transfer for high transport capacity in medium-distance and direct connection to seaports; It is acknowledged as an environmentally-friendly mode of transport with low costs. In the past 10 years, the MoT has invested and upgraded 16 major waterway transport routes with high capacity; exploited the coastal transport route Quang Ninh - Kien Giang to support the North-South corridor and some river and sea transport routes connecting coastal provinces and seaports inland...

Air transport: This is a highly specific mode of transport and is suitable for moving passengers and valuable goods over medium and long distances (over 700km - 800km) in a short time. It is not much affected by terrain fragmentation. Currently, the airport system is operating 22/23 ports as planned, including 9 international airports(6) and 13 domestic airports(7). Infrastructure capacity for passenger movement reaches 95 million passengers/year, and 1 million tons of freight/year.

Railway transport: Rail freight is a good choice when shipping large volumes of cargo over medium and long distances (300km - 800km). Due to limited resources, in the past period, the railway sector only renovated and upgraded some key points on the Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City route and Hanoi - Lao Cai route; completed construction and put into operation 5.67km Ha Long - Cai Lan section of Yen Vien - Ha Long - Cai Lan route;...

Over the past years, the Party and the State of Vietnam have set the construction and development of TI as a top priority and achieved multiple significant results. However, up to now, Vietnam's TI has not had a breakthrough development. The goal to develop a synchronous and modernized transport infrastructure is not up to par, there is considerable disparity in the level of development across regions... Besides, “Connectivity in infrastructure development, especially in transport, is inadequate”(8); the expressway network has just been formed and has not yet satisfied the set targets(9); railway transport is outdated, the high-speed railway has not been built, the first urban railway lines have just recently been completed; some seaports have not been fully exploited; there are not enough modernized river and seaports to stimulate economic and tourist growth; Some major international airports, such as Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat, Da Nang are overloaded,... Such inadequacy is due mainly to insufficient public funding for TI(10) and the limited access to official development assistance (ODA) funds and loans with preferential interest rates. In addition, the legal framework is incomplete, unattractive with potential risks, etc. Consequently, capital mobilization from outside sources, especially private funding for TI still faces countless obstacles.

Overall, since the domestic economy is dealing with enormous challenges, despite being identified, strategic breakthroughs have not been significantly improved. In recent years, infrastructure investment as a part of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) is among the lowest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This brings challenges to the need for continuous development of the modern infrastructure services for the next stage (Vietnam ranks 89th out of 137 countries in terms of infrastructure quality)(11).

Major orientations for the development of Vietnam's transport infrastructure between 2021 and 2030

The planning of the transport infrastructure system of all 5 modes of transport: road, railway, maritime, airway, and inland waterway transport is set as the top priority. Strategic and long-term planning will maximize the outstanding advantages of each region, connect economic centers, create new economic development spaces and resources as well as attractive projects for investors; especially it will enable the strengths of each mode of transport, reduce logistics costs, optimize transportation costs, thereby improving the competitiveness of the economy.

Since early 2020, the MoT has directed the completion of all 5 national transport master plans (out of a total of 37 national master plans). Up to the present, under the drastic leadership of government managers and the close coordination across ministries, branches, and localities, the MoT has completed these 5 plans.

This is the first time that these 5 plans have been formulated and integrated jointly, thus ensuring the synchronization and connectivity between modes of transportation and overcoming the drawbacks of the previous plans, corresponding to the orientation as prescribed in the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress, ensuring flexibility in the implementation process, allowing localities that need to develop and mobilize resources to ask permission of the Prime Minister to soon implement investment projects. Accordingly, the general orientation for the development of transport infrastructure from 2021 to 2030 in the national sector plans is described as follows:

In terms of road transport, it is compulsory to complete inter-regional highways connecting international gateway seaports, international airports, and main international border gates with high import and export demand, special cities, and first-class cities. Conveniently connecting national highways to second-class seaports, international airports, large inland waterway ports, major railway stations, and urban traffic hubs in second-class or inferior class. Completing the construction of about 5,000km of expressway and road surface renovation, improving the road safety system, reducing crashes and fatalities in identified black spots, repairing weak bridges, and upgrading some key national highways connecting to major transport hubs that have no parallel expressways (seaports, inland waterway ports, airports, railway stations).

Regarding maritime transport, priority should be given to the development of key seaports, including international gateway ports combined with international transshipment in Hai Phong city (Lach Huyen, Nam Do Son) and Ba Ria - Vung Tau province (Cai Mep – Thi Vai) as well as large-scale seaports in service of national or inter-regional socio-economic growth, international ports that attract foreign visitors, large-scale ports associated with economic zones, metallurgy, oil refining, coal-fired power, gas shipment. Gradually calling for investment in potential key seaports, such as Van Phong, Tran De, and so forth, ports located in island districts to achieve socio-economic growth goals and maintain national defense and sovereignty.

Regarding inland waterways: Renovating and upgrading synchronously main routes with high traffic density so that trains could run 24 hours a day; striving for the total length of synchronous exploitation routes according to the planned technical level to reach about 5,000km.  Developing the system of inland waterway ports to meet the transport demand on waterway transport corridors; modernizing main ports and specialized ports. Completing the road connection with the main inland waterway ports, investing in wharves for inland waterway vehicles in the seaport waters, especially at Hai Phong and Ba Ria - Vung Tau ports; investing in some passenger ports to serve tourists and passengers.

Regarding air transport: prioritizing investment in a number of key airports in Hanoi Capital (Noi Bai airport) and Ho Chi Minh City (Tan Son Nhat and Long Thanh airports).  Effectively exploiting and gradually upgrading 22 existing airports to meet the demand, investing in 6 new airports, increasing the total number of airports put into operation nationwide to 28 with a total annual passenger capacity of about 278 million so that over 95% of the population could access the airport within 100km. Investing in infrastructure and flight management systems at a synchronous, modern, and regional level to meet the forecasted passenger transport demand. Gradually mobilizing investment resources for logistics centers, flight training centers, aircraft maintenance, and repair facilities, and aircraft instruments and equipment to ensure flight safety.

Regarding railways: upgrading and renovating 7 existing railway lines to ensure their safety; deploying investment in 2 priority sections of the North-South high-speed railway. Prioritizing the construction of railway lines connecting international gateway seaports, especially in Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, and Ba Ria - Vung Tau provinces; connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Can Tho city, connecting the main international border gate with China, Laos, and Cambodia under treaties on international transport and in line with investment progress of countries in the region.

Orientation of key projects throughout 2021 to 2025

In order to achieve transport infrastructure development goals set out in the Party's Resolution and national master plans, the MoT has developed a medium-term plan for the 2021-2025 period with a number of key objectives: completing the North-South expressway in the East; renovating and upgrading more than 1,000km of national highways and some large bridges on arterial national roads to meet transportation needs, and ensure traffic safety on some important transport corridors. Investing in completing the Hau river fairway to facilitate the access of large ships to Can Tho port cluster; renovating fairways to Cai Mep - Thi Vai port cluster to accommodate 200.000 deadweight tons ships; renovating the Quy Nhon fairway to accommodate 50,000T ships; Tho Quang fairway to accommodate ships of 8,000T - 100,000T; maritime fairway to Nam Nghi Son area to meet the requirements of industrial cluster development in South Thanh Hoa - North Nghe An. Investing in construction to ensure the maritime sovereignty (lights, supply ships, rescue ships,...); completing investments in the Cho Gao Canal; lifting bridges on some national inland waterways with high traffic volume (Red river fairway and some other fairways in the Mekong Delta). Renovating inland waterway routes in the southern region to improve connectivity and freight transport capacity between the Mekong Delta and the Southeast region and the Cai Mep - Thi Vai port cluster. Completing the first phase of the Long Thanh International Airport project, renovating Con Dao airport, upgrading Dien Bien airport, T3 terminal at Tan Son Nhat airport as well as the second phase of the take-off and landing flight path at Noi Bai International airport and Tan Son Nhat International airport. Completing the connection of Ha Khau rail to ensure the movement of transshipment trains with China; renovating some railway stations to increase the capacity of loading and unloading of goods; completing the renovation of weak bridges, weak tunnels, and upper floors, etc. Ensuring safety for train operation, improving the exploitation capacity of the Thong Nhat railway line; preparing to deploy a number of North-South high-speed railway sections.

Key tasks and solutions to accomplish the set goals

In the period 2021 - 2025, to create a real breakthrough in the development of transport infrastructure, the MoT has developed specific tasks and solutions to be implemented with a focus on institutional improvement and resource mobilization.

First of all, it is crucial to formulate, amend and promulgate breakthrough, synchronous and practical mechanisms and policies by minimizing administrative procedures and intermediary stages to concentrate responsibility, shorten the implementation time, creating a legal corridor to promote decentralization and local governance to increase autonomy in mobilizing resources. The MoT focuses on performing state management functions, such as institutional building, planning, and strengthening supervision and inspection.

Secondly, it is noticeable that public funding holds a key role in mobilizing all legal outside funding sources, it is necessary to create breakthrough mechanisms and policies; flexibly adapting a number of successful budgets mobilization models; effectively using the public budget allocated for each mode of transport, for instance: 1- Regarding road transport, increasing maximum decentralization to the competent state agencies to implement  public-private partnership (PPP) projects, especially expressway projects; 2- Regarding maritime transport and inland waterways, the state  budget is only allocated to public infrastructure, such as dredging channels, ensuring smooth navigation…; mobilizing private resources to invest in the entire system of ports and wharves and decentralizing the entire authority to grant permits and call for investment to localities; 3- For air transport, assigning localities to be competent authorities to manage PPP investment for all new airports, non-essential airports, especially airports in the Northwest region; 4- For railways sector, the state budget is used to investing in infrastructure system; it is essential to mobilize  outside sources to invest in equipment, operate and exploit some rail stations. Furthermore, it is needful to build a mechanism for localities to plan and exploit the land fund in the station areas to participate in the partial funding, reducing financial pressure on Government.

Thirdly, in terms of implementation organization, a good decentralization in investment, management, and exploitation of the transport infrastructure system will effectively maximize available resources and promote the potential and advantages of each locality. Promoting the creativity and responsibility of local authorities is a vital factor. Consequently, provinces and municipalities that have transport infrastructure projects, especially expressways projects, will actively establish synchronous plans, especially their planning to develop land funds, and create space for industrial, service, tourism, and urban development… Mobilizing the participation of the whole local political system will promptly solve difficulties and long-standing problems related to site clearance, construction material supply... Besides, there should be close and effective coordination with central ministries and branches in the management of investment and construction.

To create a legal corridor to implement these solutions, the MoT is currently reviewing all legal regulations and submitting amendments to the Government and the Prime Minister. It is believed that, under the drastic direction of the Government and the Prime Minister, the close coordination of central ministries and branches, and the active involvement of localities, the socio-economic development goals from 2021 to 2025 set out in the Resolution of the 13th National Congress and the Resolution of the National Assembly on the five-year socio-economic development plan for 2021-2025 will be achievable. /.


(1) Documents of the 13th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, vol. I, p. 222

(2) Hanoi - Thai Nguyen, Hanoi - Bac Giang, Phap Van - Cau Gie, Noi Bai - Lao Cai

(3) Ho Chi Minh City - Long Thanh - Dau Giay

(4) Da Nang - Quang Ngai, Hanoi - Hai Phong, Hai Phong - Ha Long

(5) 90% of goods imported and exported through the seaport system

(6) Noi Bai, Van Don, Cat Bi, Phu Bai, Da Nang, Cam Ranh, Tan Son Nhat, Can Tho, and Phu Quoc

(7) Dien Bien, Tho Xuan, Vinh, Dong Hoi, Chu Lai, Phu Cat, Tuy Hoa, Pleiku, Buon Ma Thuot, Lien Khuong, Ca Mau, Rach Gia and Con Dao. Particularly, Phan Thiet Airport is preparing for investment

(8) Documents of the 13th National Congress, ibid, vol. II, p. 68

(9) The target set in Resolution No. 13-NQ/TW, dated January 16, 2012, of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Central Committee, is to complete and put into operation about 2,000km of expressways by 2020.

(10) Between 2016 and 2020, the MoT satisfied only 24% of the demand for investment and development of transport infrastructure.

(11) See: “Vietnam Overview”,, April 7, 2021

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 978 (November 2021)