The entire 17-km section will be completed by the end of next year with 150m of rails installed every three days, according to the HCM City Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR).
The tracks and sleepers are among the items of a bidding package to purchase electromechanical equipment, locomotives, coaches and rail tracks manufactured by Japanese contractor Hitachi.
The package has finished the design of 10 out of 11 items and is in production in Japan with 22 per cent of the work completed, according to MAUR.
Locomotives and coaches are expected to be transported to HCM City in mid-2018, it said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, said: “The first metro line plays an integral part in the city’s socio-economic development, helping improve the city’s public transport system to connect the city with provinces in the southern region.”
Tuyen urged MAUR to work closely with the consultants and contractors to speed up construction progress so that the metro can start operation in 2020 while ensuring safety and quality of the project.
Akito Takahashi, deputy head of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Vietnam Office, said JICA was willing to disburse from the committed ODA for the project.
However, Takahashi expressed concern over the delay in payment to the contractors due to insufficient funds from the central government.
He said that JICA appreciated HCM City authority for temporarily arranging the budget to reduce the debt pressure of contractors during the past months.
“We respectfully request that the Vietnamese Government take drastic measures to address the issue of capital replenishment as soon as possible,” said Akito Takahashi.
In addition, the first metro tunnel running from Ba Son Station to the Municipal Theatre in District 1 will be finished next week, two months ahead of schedule, according to MAUR.
The installation of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) began in March and tunnel construction in May, it said.
The entire tunnel is expected to be completed by mid-2018.
The HCM City’s metro route No 1 connects Ben Thanh Terminal in District 1 with Suoi Tien Terminal in District 9.
The metro line will have 19.7km of track, of which 2.6km are underground (with three stations) and over 17km are above ground (with 11 stations), passing through District 1 through District 2, District 9 and Binh Thanh and Thu Duc districts and Binh Duong province.
Construction started in August 2012, with the line expected to open in 2020.
After years of delays due to numerous adjustments, the cost of the project has risen to more than 47 trillion VND (2.49 billion USD), according to MAUR.-