Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Tho, Member, National Financial & Monetary Policy Advisory Council, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City
The city sets target to become a hub of finance and trade in the Southeast Asia by 2030, marking its leading role in Vietnam’s digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
Forty-six years – a long time for a human life but just a blink in an eye for Nhan Huynh, a Vietnamese-American, as he has witnessed an impressive change in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) since Vietnam liberated the South and reunited the nation, putting an end to the 30-year war, in 1975.
|A corner of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
Huynh, a businessperson usually travelling between the US and Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that HCMC, formerly known as Saigon, is his birthplace so wherever he goes, his heart still looks towards this city.
“I still remember… when the South was liberated for national reunification on April 30, 1975, local economy started to decline… many families had to eat cooked rice mixed with potatoes and cassava,” Huynh said.
Just a wink, after 46 years, the city has rapidly and strongly developed…everything has changed… people enjoy a full life with delicious foods, beautiful clothes and many other conveniences … not only me but also many Viet kieu [overseas Vietnamese people] across the world having aspired to invest in the city,” he said.
Tam Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Japanese who has been for many years doing business in HCMC, has expressed his absolute trust in the city’s development and wished to promote long-run projects in the city.
“I was not often here, I was always surprised whenever I came back HCMC, where has been developing fast and more beautiful day by day,” Tam said.
He said: “I am grateful for the city’s flexible policies in business registration, creating favorable conditions for young people to start a business, and for expatriates who wish to head to their homeland like me.”
After 46 years of the day of southern liberation for national reunification, HCMC today has risen to a modern city with many high-rise buildings and wide open roads, along with rich culture and progresses in economic growth, making a great pride for Vietnamese people, business community and Viet kieu as well.
Dr. Su Ngoc Khuong, a senior executive at Savills Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that on a 46-year journey between 1975 and 2021, HCMC has always maintained its role as a leader in promoting key economic development in the South and the whole country.
He said the city every year is in the list of localities with top GDP contribution and also the destination for billion-dollar investors and giant enterprises.
“In the period 2020-21, when the Covid-19 pandemic holds back the world’s economic growth, HCMC is still a solid fulcrum for the country’s development. And in the future, with the goal of building a knowledge-based economy with constant reform and innovation, the city is forecasted to reach further,” said Khuong.
Building a smart city is seen as a great progress of the HCMC after 46 years of liberation. After half a century of war and poverty, the southern city is urgently moving forward with huge plans of expansion and urban development, marking its determination to be one of the top cities in the world.
|The smart city will make a change in the living of local residents, helping them get access to modern services of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism. Photo: doimoisangtao.vn|
The smart city project has been carried out in HCMC since 2018 and will be realized by 2025. It will ensure the city’s economic growth moving towards knowledge-based economy and digital economy, and effective urban governance to improve the quality of living and working environment and enhance people’s participation in management.
As planned, the smart city will benefit local residents in the fields of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism.
Nguyen Nam Hien, Deputy General of Hung Thinh Corp, said over the past years, the management and development of the smart city project have seen many positive changes. Urban space has been expanded along with increasing number of population. “People enjoy more conveniences of a modern city.”
Hien said after more than two years of implementing the smart city project, the HCMC has remarkably changed with many advanced technologies, which brought about positive results.
“The goal of turning HCMC to be a place with modern and civilized life has gradually come true,” Hien said.
Having benefited from the smart city project, Nguyen Thi Thao, a resident in the city’s District 8, told Hanoitimes that her living standard has been significantly improved as she is part of the Fourth Industrial resolution.
“With a smartphone connected to the Internet, I can pay electricity and water bills, get information about traffic jams and floods in the city. It helps me save a lot of time,” Thao said.
People can perform administrative procedures easily in the online form. It is really convenient, fast and modern … the city people’s life has never been better than today,” she said.
The city’s economic growth basing on high-tech and services has been rapidly developed in the city for years, especially after the HCMC Economic Forum 2018 (HEF 2018) themed “Fostering Interactive and Innovative Districts: The Prominent Role of Businesses”, which introduces the construction plan of the city’s Eastern part toward a creative urban model.
With support from leading experts in the world and Vietnam as well, the city has realized its sustainable goals, creating breakthrough reforms in economic development. Of the plan, Thu Duc is seen as the cradle of the digital transformation in the city.
On December 31, 2020, Thu Duc, a creative urban area in the Eastern part of HCMC officially became a city according to a decision issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee.
Thu Duc city, under the management of HCMC, is a development model dependent on the knowledge-based economy, in which it creates a driving force for the development of economy, education and health.
There is still a very far way for Thu Duc city to realize its goals comprehensively but it has appeared some prominent areas that can be seen as images of the HCMC’s economic development in the future. One of them is Saigon Hi-Tech Park, which is expected to be a powerful tractor for high-tech industries under the knowledge-based economy. By the end of last year, about 160 project had been granted investment registration certificates in the park.
|A worker at work in Saigon High-Tech Park in HCM City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
According to Nguyen Anh Thi, Head of the Saigon High-Tech Park’s Management Board, the board has set plan to reach nearly US$11 billion of investment capital by 2025, with an export value of about $30 billion per year, marking an annual increase of 10% on average. Meanwhile, the domestic value added in gross export is expected to gain 35%.
“We expect the domestic enterprises’ production value of high-tech products in the 2020-25 period will increase by at least two times compared with previous five years,” Thi said.
The Saigon Hi-Tech Park is also the first place of Vietnam to begin researching and producing Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine has gone through several stages of testing and got close to being used publicly. “Its pioneering in the production of vaccine has helped Vietnam to be named in the group of countries that can be self-reliant in vaccines, ensuring health security for the nation in the future,” Thi said.
The 2020-25 period is a gear-up step for the city’s development. After the successful innovation of Thu Duc city, the municipal authorities are making best efforts to support business community with many open policies to develop key and competitive products as well as creating condition for local businesses to participate in the global supply chain.
The city will apply high-tech and innovation in production, focusing on investment in finance-banking service, tourism, trade, logistics and infrastructure planning as well as encouraging the production and export of high-tech products, software and digital products.
In this period, the city aims to maintain its key role in the economy in the South and the whole country, taking the lead in innovation and building a high-quality living for local people with a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of US$8,500 per head on average by 2025.
It is expected to become a center of economy, finance, trade, science and technology and culture in the Southeast Asia by 2030, being a leader in digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
By 2045, the city will become an attractive destination in the world and an economic and financial hub of Asia. Local people will have a high quality living standard with GRDP of $37,700 per head on average.
A street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City partially reopened to traffic after the developer of the city’s metro line No. 1 project finished removing construction barriers along a portion of the road it had occupied for the past seven years.
Commuters are allowed to travel west on Le Loi Street in District 1 between Pasteur and Nguyen Hue Streets from Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Management Authority for Urban Railways and the Shimizu – Maeda joint venture completed removing all barriers belonging to the CP1b construction package, an important part of the metro line No. 1 project.
These barriers were first erected in 2014 for the construction of the Municipal Theater Station.
The street section was handed over to the municipal Department of Construction, Department of Transport, and District 1 People’s Committee for further work.
The barriers belonging to the CP1a construction package which occupy the remaining blocked-off section of Le Loi Street are expected to be removed by the end of the year.
The CP1a package includes the section of metro line No. 1 linking the Municipal Theater Station and Ben Thanh Terminal.
|A new lighting system along a section of Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, April 28, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
The now-cleared area also seems to have been given a fresh layer of asphalt, brand new sidewalks, and a lighting system.
“I’m very glad that the barriers have been cleared because my business has been severely affected over the past several years,” said Cao Thi Nhu, a resident on Le Loi Street.
Metro line No. 1, which runs from Ben Thanh Market in District 1 to Suoi Tien Theme Park in Thu Duc City, is 19.7km long, including 2.6km of underground railways and 17.1km of elevated railways.
|A construction worker prepares for the reopening of a section of Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, April 28, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
The project includes three underground stations and 11 above-ground stations.
Initiated in August 2012, the metro line project was estimated to cost over VND43.7 trillion (US$1.9 billion).
About 94 percent of the work has been finished and the metro route is expected to be put into operation in 2022.
|Construction barriers are removed from Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, April 28, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
|A section of Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City is given a fresh layer of asphalt. Photo : Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
|A bird’s-eye view of Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, April 28, 2021. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
Severe traffic jams broke out at Ho Chi Minh City’s Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station and surrounding areas on Thursday evening as people rushed to leave the metropolis for their weekend holiday.
Workers in Vietnam begin their four-day holiday marking the Reunification Day (April 30) and the International Labor Day (May 1) from Friday.
On Thursday evening, multiple streets surrounding the Mien Dong Bus Station, namely Dinh Bo Linh, Nguyen Xi, and Xo Viet Nghe Tinh in Binh Thanh District and National Highway No. 13 in Thu Duc City, were seriously congested due to a surge in travel demand.
Countless motorbikes, automobiles, and long-haul buses were traveling at a snail’s pace along these routes.
The entrance of the bus station was also jammed, with commuters hopelessly honking their horns.
Hundreds of travelers waited for their passenger buses with frustration along the sidewalks.
|Motorbikes, automobiles, and long-haul buses travel at a snail’s pace at Binh Trieu Bridge in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
Many of them decided to rest at nearby cafés until the situation improved.
As of 9:15 pm the same day, the congestion had remained severe despite traffic police’s efforts.
Similar traffic jams also occurred at the Mien Tay (Western) Bus Station in Binh Tan District at dusk on Thursday.
|Commuters are stuck in a traffic jam in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
Despite the rising travel demand, operators of the Mien Dong and Mien Tay Bus Stations required all transport businesses to take necessary COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Passengers must have their body temperature measured before getting on their buses and must wear face masks during the entire journey.
|Traffic congestion on National Highway No. 13 in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
|Commuters are stuck in a traffic jam in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
|Motorcyclists travel on the sidewalk of Binh Trieu Bridge due to serious traffic congestion on April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
|Travelers wait for their long-haul buses in front of the Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
Important aviation gateway
Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Dinh Viet Thang said that in the near future, the aviation market of Vietnam and ASEAN will become bustling and full of competition. The deregulation of fare regulations and charter flight restrictions have had a strong impact on the structure of air transport prices. Airlines can be flexible in setting rates, offering competitive rates, suitable for passenger segments, thereby improving operational capacity and boosting air transport growth in the region in general and in Vietnam in particular.With a market and a population of nearly 100 million with increasingly improved incomes, Vietnam continues to be a destination for investment, business and tourism for both foreign investors and tourists. Along with the deep integration of the Vietnamese economy with the regional and international economies, the Vietnamese aviation industry has seen many opportunities for growth and development.
In mid-December, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) gathered a range of statistics, the results showing that the Hanoi-HCMC route is the world’s second busiest in November after the Republic of Korea’s Jeju-Seoul. In the VNA flight network, the route was exploited right from the start of the airline, playing a particularly important role in the business of the VNA Group (including VNA and Pacific Airlines) as well as in serving the political, economic, cultural and tourist duties of Vietnam. With the strategic role and great demand for the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route, the VNA has constantly improved and continuously launched products and services on this route to increase its attractions and offer the best guest experience to passengers.
The airline has invested in developing a fleet of wide-body aircraft Asia-Pacific, the second largest in Southeast Asia with its two main aircraft lines Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. Of which, there are 14 Airbus A350s-900, 11 Boeing 787-9, three Boeing 787-10 ,serving the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city route and international routes to Europe and Australia. In addition, the airline also operates this route according to the strategy of developing a “dual-brand” to meet the diverse demands of customers with a wide range of diversified products, flexible flight schedules and types of services suitable to the requirements of all types of passengers. “This combination has contributed to consolidating the market share of the VNA Group, which has always beenmaintained at more than 50% onthis route as well as in the domestic market”, according to the VNA representative.
Raising service levels
By 2020, VNA’s passenger volume on the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city route accounted for 25% of the total number of domestic passengers (on average, one out of every four VNA passengers took the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route). In April, 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic became very complicated, the number of passengers flying between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City decreased by only 15% over the same period; but in May, when the pandemic was brought under control, the number of passengers was restored to 100%. Currently, the VNA Group provides about 104,000 seats per week, transporting 92,000 passengers between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, equivalent to 98% of the same period last year and accounting for a 57% share of the total market.
In order to elevate the route to a core product in the domestic market, from July this year, VNA launched the identifier and the name “VNAXPRESS – Ho Chi Minh route” creating outstanding advantages. Accordingly, on average, VNA and Pacific Airlines make nearly 40 flights per day between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City route with a frequency of 30 minutes to one hour, meeting the travel demands of passengers at all times. The departure times of the flights are arranged inround time frames (5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock, etc.) spreadfrom 6 to 21 hours daily, making it easy for passengers to to plan their tickets.
The flights are enhanced with wide body aircraft with a journey time of 2 hours per flight, giving passengers the opportunity to regularly experience the most modern aircraft in the world. In the event of an early arrival at the airport, passengers may be invited to fly at an earlier departure time, if the flight has room, within 120 minutes of departure, even after passing the security screening area. Passengers are allowed to use the passenger boarding bridge, with their own check-in counters and boarding gates. The check-in counters are located near the security entrance to help passengers save time and enhancel convenience.
In addition, passengers also enjoy the full range of VNA’sservices at a 4-star international standard from ground to air. For the first time on this route, Economy Class passengers can enjoy a variety of new dishes, while Business Class passengers can choose from a variety of dishes from traditional to European flavors in three time frames: Breakfast, noon and evening. Passengers also experience the reading space of E-reader covering various topics in both the Vietnamese and English language.
Publications are regularly updated and supplemented to bring the latest information to passengers. “Putting into operation the electronic publication is part of VNA’s overall strategy to keep pace with global trends and become a digital airline while improving the quality of in-flight reading services, ensuring the health of passengers by limiting their exposure and contributing to reducing the amount of paper to protect the environment”, said the VNA’s leader.
Many entrances leading to Ho Chi Minh City were crammed with vehicles on Sunday as travelers came back to the city one day early before the end of a four-day holiday.
Many returnees had thought that they should come back to the city on Sunday instead of Monday, the last day off, to avoid traffic congestion.
Salaried workers in Vietnam are entitled to four days off from Friday to celebrate Reunification Day (April 30) and International Workers’ Day (May 1).
The number of vehicles began to increase gradually on Sunday afternoon at the gateways to the city, keeping traffic police forces busy at important traffic points.
A prolonged jam formed on the Ly Thai To Street section in Dong Nai Province leading to the Cat Lai Ferry in Ho Chi Minh City at 4:30 pm, mainly in the automobile lane, with the line of stuck vehicles stretching more than one kilometer.
The same situation was observed at 5:30 pm on National Highway 1 in its section linking the Mekong Delta province of Long An with Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh District.
|This image shows vehicles crowding the Long Phuoc Toll Collection Station in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City on May 2, 2021. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre|
Tran Minh Hiep, one of the returnees, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he would not go to work on Monday but he opted to leave Bao Loc City of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong for the southern metropolis sooner to avoid traffic jams.
Bao Loc Pass began to be packed with vehicles that moved at a snail’s pace at around Saturday noon, Hiep said.
“I started to enter the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at about 4:30 pm,” Hiep said.
“The first section of the expressway in Dau Giay was not stuck and the toll collection booth was operating normally.
|Despite an early return to Ho Chi Minh City, many people ended up in traffic congestion on National Highway 1 on May 2, 2021. Photo : Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
“But after I passed Long Thanh District, congestion started to happen, with vehicles moving very slowly.”
Sunday afternoon also saw slight congestion on the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, the National Highway 6 traffic patrol team reported.
Traffic officers, therefore, had to restrict the traffic flow from entering the highway from the Dong Nai Province direction until the handling of the incident was completed.
Meanwhile, the Cat Lai traffic police team assigned its units to be on duty around the clock in areas prone to congestion like expressway lead-ups and such streets as Mai Chi Tho, Luong Dinh Cua, and Dong Van Cong.
|This image shows a boy dozing on the handlebars of a motorbike on the way back to Ho Chi Minh City on May 2, 2021. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
In addition, the Cat Lai ferry area was also put under control by a large traffic police force.
Traffic police officers, in conjunction with other forces, also allocated a part of traffic flow from the expressway to the My Thuy intersection, Phu Huu roundabout, and the branch road leading to Do Xuan Hop Street in order to relieve the traffic load on the highway.
|This image shows holiday-goers on the way back to Ho Chi Minh city on May 2, 2021. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
|Vehicles are seen moving slowly on the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at 6:15 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre|
|A traffic police officer on duty at a hot spot of traffic on National Highway 1 on May 2, 2021. Photo : Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
|This image shows traffic congestion on a section of National Highway 1 in Dong Nai Province, near the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, at 3:00 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Thach Ha / Tuoi Tre|
|A scene of traffic on the road section leading to the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at 4:30 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre|