Nguyen Quoc Han, a National Assembly delegate from the southernmost province of Ca Mau, said Monday that there was a lack of expressways connecting his province with Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces in the region.
He said the shortage was a " bottleneck holding down development of the region."
Han proposed that the government invests in an expressway between Ca Mau and Long An Province, and between Ca Mau and Can Tho City, as part of the national expressway.
Tran Hoang Ngan, a delegate from HCMC, expressed the same concern, saying that many citizens have been longing for more public investment in the region's infrastructure, especially roads.
The government responded that it has been making strong efforts to develop the Mekong Delta region. Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said that over the last five years, about 33 percent of public investment for transport has been allocated to the Mekong Delta.
"The government has ordered ministries to prioritize the Mekong Delta region in their budgets," he said.
However, other lawmakers said delays in key transport projects are a matter of concern. They noted that only the first section of an expressway connecting HCMC and Can Tho – until Tien Giang Province - has been completed long after the project was approved.
The second section, connecting Tien Giang with Vinh Long Province, missed its deadline last year, after construction began in 2015.
The Ministry of Transport is still selecting investors for the third section that connects Vinh Long with Can Tho.
A $5-billion high-speed railway connecting HCMC and Can Tho has also been planned, but no date has been set for its construction. When complete, this would cut travel time between the two cities to 45 minutes, compared to 3.5 hours by bus.
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