Rach Mieu Bridge Truong Tan Sang, Politburo member and standing member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Viet Nam Central Committee, and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong were among participants at the inauguration ceremony. The long-awaited bridge will contribute to directly connecting the coconut-rich province to neighbouring areas in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, said Huynh Van Be, chairman of Ben Tre provincial People’s Council. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Transport Minister Ho Nghia Dung said the main aim of developing infrastructure in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta was to establish major traffic routes and expand provincial and rural roads. Priority will also be given to develop and upgrade waterway routes along the Tien and Hau River, and to build specialised ports, he said. The 3,068m-long and 12m-wide cable-stayed bridge, the first of it kind built by Vietnamese contractors at a cost of VND1.4 trillion (US$82.4 million), links My Tho town in Tien Giang Province to Thoi Son island in Ben Tre Province, chairman Huynh Van Be said. “The bridge will contribute to facilitating road traffic along the coast of Eastern Sea and enabling the expansion of local industrial parks combined with raw material zones to develop aquaculture and the garden-based econ-omy,” he said. As the second bridge over the Tien River after the Australian-built My Thuan Bridge, the Rach Mieu is designed by Vietnamese engineers with a clearance of 37.5m, a 106m-high tower abutment and approach roads on both ends totalling 5.2km in length. The Rach Mieu Bridge will not only strengthen the transport infrastructure in the region but also shorten the distance between the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and HCM City, and reduce the traffic pressure on the currently overloaded National Highway No.1A, Be added. To reach the delta from HCM City, apart from the National Highway No.1A, passengers can now take the national highway No.60 from My Tho town to reach Ben Tre, Tra Vinh and Soc Trang provinces by crossing the newly-built Rach Mieu Bridge instead of using the ferry service, which stopped operations yesterday. Ben Tre, Tra Vinh and Soc Trang are part of the transport corridor development strategy for coastal southwestern provinces. Over the past several years, the Ministry of Transport has invested in upgrading National Highway No.1A, the N1 route connecting Long An, Dong Thap, An Giang and Kien Giang provinces and the N2 route from Chon Thanh to Go Ray districts in Kien Giang Province. Construction of Can Tho and Ham Luong bridges are underway and the Cao Lanh and Vam Cong bridges will be built soon, the minister said. This year, a series of large-scale transport projects will be implemented, including the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta Infrastructure Development project, the southern coastal corridor, a passage for large vessels to enter the Hau River through Chanh Bo canal, and the HCM Highway section from the southernmost province of Ca Mau to its Nam Can District. Chairman of Tien Giang Province People’s Committee Nguyen Huu Tri said the province would co-operate with Ben Tre authorities to capitalise on Rach Mieu Bridge to develop the local economy, boost tourism and strengthen national defence. The province will build ferry stations linking the provinces of Tien Giang and Ben Tre at Son Dinh, Huu Hiep, An Hoa and Go Cong Dong communes and districts. It also plans tourism projects on the Long, Lan, Quy, and Phung islands. Tri said the Ministry of Transport should proceed with the construction of the strategic coastal route and hoped the My Loi Bridge would be finished soon to connect Tien Giang, Long An and HCM City, which will establish a complete roadway network in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.