Launchpad for Rural Development

11:03:06 AM | 3/6/2020

The National Target Program on New Rural Development has become a wide-spread movement and produced many positive results, with the important contribution of rural transport development. With a dense network, the rural transport system has connected remote, rural, mountainous areas with national highways and expressways. Developing rural transport is an important foundation for rural socioeconomic development.

To complete rural development objectives, one vital criteria is completing rural transport infrastructure. Referring to the task of infrastructure system construction, including transport infrastructure in rural areas and disadvantaged areas, the 12th National Congress of the Party stated: Concentrating investment in major, important and essential constructions, especially in localities with high development potential, to deal with congestion and overload; ensuring smooth connectivity of major economic centers, gateway hubs and routes with great transport demand.

To invest in rural traffic routes, huge resources of the government, society and people have been mobilized. With the engagement of the entire political system and the support of the masses, after 10 years of implementing the National Target Program on New Rural Development (2010-2020), the country has obtained many important achievements. Particularly, rural transport development has achieved quite comprehensive results. A lot of rural transport works have been constructed, restored, upgraded and regularly maintained. The number of communes without roads to administrative centers has been reduced sharply and the rate of communes with hardened rural roads has increased. Many waterways have been dredged and maintained. Parking lots and vehicle stations for passenger and freight transportation have been built or upgraded. Transport means have increased rapidly. As of May 2019, the road system in the country had a total length of 630,200 km, an increase of 87% compared to 2010. In addition to national highways and expressways, the local road system stretched over 604,000 km. Rural infrastructure across the country has been built, upgraded and completed to create a new face for the countryside, which is a premise to improve the material and spiritual life, develop production and improve income for the residential community.

In addition to investment in upgrading, restoring and building new rural roads, maintenance is one of matters of concern. Particularly in some areas seriously vulnerable to climate change such as the Mekong Delta, many roads broke down. In case of natural disasters and flooding, rural transport infrastructure can be seriously damaged. To ensure road quality, according to the Ministry of Transport, governments at all levels must balance the budget and add maintenance costs to make sure that the annual maintenance cost for each kilometer of road is at least VND3 million for commune roads, VND10 million for district roads, and VND25 million for provincial roads. They also consider providing financial support for maintenance of village roads and infield trunk roads. Besides, it is necessary to scale up the model of self-managed rural roads in residential blocks, neighborhoods, sociopolitical organizations and social organizations.

In spite of positive achievements, the rural transport system in remote areas, border areas and islands is still inadequate. In the country, 13 communes do not have automobile-supported roads leading to administrative headquarters and 101 communes cannot operate motorbike-supported roads all time throughout the year. Many communes have not hardened the road surface and travelling is thus very difficult in the rainy season. Therefore, to complete the National Target Program on New Rural Development in the next phase, the construction of rural transport infrastructure must be expanded. Up to now, more than 5,600 out of nearly 9,000 communes in the country, equivalent to 63.2% of total communes, have met rural transport criteria. This rate is expected to increase to 75% by 2025 and 95% by 2030.

Rural traffic construction is forecast to cost VND388 trillion (US$16.6 billion) in 2021-2025. To mobilize this huge resource, it is essential to engage private and ODA funds for rural transport. Mechanisms and policies, including credit policies for enterprises, are needed to attract investors into rural traffic development, especially in remote and isolated areas. Reasonably balancing resources and adopting appropriate policies to encourage and stimulate the rural traffic construction movement is one of successful stories in the last period and is expected to be a main driving force to complete the goal of rural transport infrastructure construction.

By Minh Ngoc, Vietnam Business Forum