'Efficiency & Equality in
MOCT considers transportation policies from the viewpoints of diverse parties
The government will work hard to ensure efficiency and equality of transportation policies by focusing such quality factors as transportation safety and environmental protection. It will also encourage the private sector's participation and competition in transportation facility construction and operation.
Nam In-hee, deputy minister of Headquarters for Infrastructures at the Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT), said, "Staying away from the past suppler-oriented attitude, the ministry will contemplate transportation policies from the viewpoints of diverse parties, including state, corporation and general public, while expanding the private sector's participation and competition in the course of transportation facility construction and operation in order to develop quality transportation services.
"The ministry is aggressively seeking to allure investments from the private sector into such non-profit projects as railway construction based on the Build-Transfer-Lease (BTL) method,"he said in an interview with NewsWorld.
Diverse institutional reforms have been made on such sectors as an overhaul of traffic volume measurements between regions and standardization of traffic volume estimates, he said. The following are the excerpts from the interview.
Question: What? the MOCT's position about what government agency should be entrusted with water management?
Answer: Currently, the government's water management is shared by the MOCT, the Ministry of Environment (MOE), the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) according to areas of responsibility, based on their own functions and policy goals.
The MOCT, an organ in charge of the effective management of national territory, performs such areas of responsibility as water resource and stream management designed to secure a stable supply of water resources, prevent floods and improve stream environment.
Protection of the quality of water is entrusted with the MOE; development and management of water for agricultural use, the MOF; hydroelectric power generation, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy; anti-disaster activities are performed by the NEMA.
In such advanced countries as the United States and Japan, environment agencies, including the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and the Japanese Environment Agency, are responsible for water quality control and inspection, while such water management duties as water utilization and flood control are carried out separately by development agencies in accordance with its own functions.
Some environmental organizations have demanded that water management duties be unified. However, it is feared to cause a side-effect of alienating them, from each agency? own functions. It is not desirable in consideration of water management, considered essential for the harmony between checks and balances surrounding development vs. preservation.
As a result, government agencies need to divide their water management areas of responsibility in connection with their own business arenas as they do currently, and establishment of the tentatively named National Water Management Committee is necessary to coordinate possible conflicts among them in a logical manner.
Q: What's the significance of attracting private-sector investments in the construction of the Incheon Bridge, now underway, and could you tell our readers about future plans to implement SOC projects with private sector investments?
A: The Incheon Bridge, which will connect Incheon International Airport and New Songdo City, will have an 11.7 km-long maritime sector. The bridge will have an 800 meter-long span, the distance between pylons, the longest cable-stayed one in Korea and the fifth longest maritime one in the world.
The Incheon Bridge will improve access to Incheon International Airport as a gateway to Korea along with the existing Yeongjong Bridge, thus contributing to building up infrastructure for developing the airport into a Northeast Asia hub port.
The private sector investment project led by AMEC of United Kingdom is expected to serve as a magnet for attracting FDIs in the Incheon Free Economic Zone encompassing Songdo, Yeongjong and Cheongna districts. The bridge will be connected with the 2nd Gyeongin Expressway and the planned 3rd Gyeongin Expressway and West Coast Expressway to provide easier access to the southern area of Seoul and the Chungcheong Province region, thus contributing to balanced national land development.
The project, launched last June is to be completed by 2009 at a cost of 2,085.8 billion won. So far, many foreign construction companies tried to participate in domestic SOC projects, but gave up halfway, citing system and cultural differences. The Incheon Bridge project is rated to be a new model of private finance projects as AMEC has overcome such numerous difficulties as differences over the relocation of military facilities and the width of the main span. The law governing a spur in foreign capital flow was enacted in 1994 to carry out such significant SOC projects as roads and railways under budgetary constraints. Since then, nine projects have been dedicated with investments from the private sector under the control of the MOCT, including the Cheonan-Nonsan Expressway and the New Airport Highway, a motorway leading to Incheon International Airport from Seoul.
Currently, nine private finance projects, including the Daegu-Busan Expressway, and the Seoul Ring Expressway, are under construction. The ministry plans to push ahead with 13 projects with investments from the private sector, including the Pyeongtaek-Siheung, Songhyeon-Bullo, 3rd Gyeongin (Seoul-Incheon) expressways, New Bundang Electrified Railway and the projected comprehensive freight terminal in Gunpo.
In particular, the ministry is aggressively seeking to allure investments from the private sector into such non-profit projects as railway construction based on the Build-Transfer-Lease (BTL) method. Such BTL projects under consideration are about sections of the Gyeongjeon and Jeolla railway lines.
The private finance initiative faced such woes as insufficient traffic demand projections, hefty toll charges and excessive guarantee of returns at an initial stage, but diverse institutional reforms have been made on such sectors as an overhaul of traffic volume measurements between regions and standardization of traffic volume estimates. The ministry will make strenuous efforts to ensure institutional reform by strengthening the punishment of institutions found to have made improper traffic volume projections.
Q: Would you be more specific about the current status of such comprehensive infrastructure as road network, railway network, aviation and ports and what tasks need to be undertaken?
A: The law governing special accounts of traffic facilities and the law concerning the effectuation of traffic systems were enacted in 1993 and 1999, respectively to expand investments into state trunk transportation facilities and ensure investment efficiency. The act on special accounts of transportation facilities was established in 1994 to bring about a marked growth of transportation facility investments, thus leading to a continuous expansion of such logistics infrastructure as roads and railways.
These efforts have resulted in a five-fold growth compared to the 1970s. Korea's transportation stock breaks down to road network totaling 97,252 km, railway network of 3,140 km and ports'cargo handling capacity of 528 million tons.
In particular, the successful completion of such mega projects as the 2001 opening of Incheon International Airport and the 2004 debut of the high-speed railway KTX has been rated to have built up foundation for national development and improving the quality of public lives.
However, despite favorable geopolitical advantages, Korea has insufficient infrastructure as the nation has ranked 33rd among the 60 countries in the world in terms of infrastructure competitiveness. Higher population density and population concentration in the Seoul metropolitan area cause 22.7 trillion won in expenses stemming from traffic congestion and 87 trillion won in logistics costs, equivalent to 12.7 percent of GDP.
By continuing to expand government investments into transportation facilities, the government plans to build up an expressway network in a grid pattern with nine arterial expressways running east to west and seven running north to south and an artery railway network with a six by six pattern while it will complete the Incheon International Airport Expansion Project Phase II by 2008 without a hitch with the goal of developing the port into a port hub of Northeast Asia.
The ministry will try to ensure structural integrity of national transportation networks by enhancing supplementary and substituting roles of railway, road and other transportation means based on the National Major Transportation Network Plan between 2000 and 2019, established in 1999, in a bid to solve such problems as overlapped SOC investments and project priority. At the same time, it will strive for ensuring efficiency and equality of transportation policies by focusing such quality factors as transportation safety and environmental protection.
Staying away from the past suppler-oriented attitude, the ministry will contemplate transportation policies from the viewpoints of diverse parties, including state, corporation and general public, while expanding the private sector's participation and competition in the course of transportation facility construction and operation in order to develop quality transportation services.
Q: Would you elaborate on mid- and long-term road network construction plans?
A: The government is building up an expressway network so that everyone can get to expressway in 30 minutes and to anywhere in the country within half a day. To this end, it aims to construct a 6,160 km-long road network in a grid pattern with nine arterial expressways running east to west and seven running north to south by 2020. The government plans to finish construction of about 4,000 km, two-thirds of the target by 2010.
Nineteen new expressway sections, totaling 1,093 km, and 19 expansion portions, totaling 611 km, are now under construction. Out of the total, the 49 km-long Jinju-Tongyeong new section and three expansion portions ！ Yeonyang-Busan, Jungyak-Okcheon, and Hannam-Banpo ！ will be dedicated within this year. The 39 km-long Seosuwon-Pyeongtaek new expressway private finance project and the 24 km-long Yongin-Seoul section broke ground between last May and June. Construction of the projected 45 km-long Eumseong-Chungju portion will start year-end.
The government plans to expand investments to launch and dedicate the projects on schedule. To this end, Korea Highway Corp. will issue 5 trillion won worth of asset-backed securities over six years between 2005 and 2010 in return for offering the rights to operate the Yeongdong (Seoul-Gangneung) and other expressways.It is aggressively turning to private finance projects to ease the government's budgetary constraints and attract investors from the private sector, which are guaranteed profits in the form of toll charges. Eight private financing projects worth 14,246.2 billion won have been carried out until June 2006 since the law governing private finance projects was enacted in Korea in 1994. The government plans to undertake six new private financing expressway projects, including the ones to build the Peyongtaek-Siheung and Songhyeon-Bullo expressways during this year and four more next year.
Q: What? the progress of projects to connect South and North Korean road and railway networks?
A: Following the historic inter-Korean summit agreement on reconnecting severed roads and railways between South and North Korea, projects to link National Road No. 1 and Gyeongeui Railway broke ground in September 2000. Projects to link National Road No. 7 along the East Coast and the Donghae Railway followed suit in September 2002. Construction of the 12.1 km-long section of National Road No. 1 linking the northern part of the Tongil (Unification) Grand Bridge and the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea was completed in October 2003. The 27.3 km-long Munsan-Gaeseong section of the Gyeongui Railway was dedicated in December 2002. North Korea is to finish work on station structures and electricity by year-end. The North Korean side section of National Road No. 7 ！ Military Demarcation Line-Onjeongni section ！ and the southern side portion ！ 3.8 km-long Unification Observatory-MDL ！ have been already completed. The remaining Jeojin-Unification Observatory section is to be dedicated by the end of the year. Work on linking Jeojin and Mt. Geumgang on the Tonghae Railway has been already done. South and North Korea are to complete construction of an immigration facility in Jeojin, and station structures and electricity by the end of the year, respectively. The South Korean government plans to study another project to link the southern and northern sections of National Road No. 3 and the Gyeongwon Railway between South and North Korea, while it will also seek to cooperate with neighboring countries in the expansion of road and railway networks with the goal of building up railway and road networks leading to China and Russia.
Q: Would you explain strategies to develop construction and transportation technologies in the future?
A: Korea needs to have high-performance and environmentally-friendly social infrastructure and advanced construction technologies with a view to realizing a goal of developing Korea into a logistics hub of Northeast Asia.
As part of its efforts to foster the domestic construction industry into a value-added mainstream industrial sector on the global market, Korea will have to have a strategy to combine constriction technologies and new technologies like IT, bio technology and nano technology.
In this regard, the ministry has made massive investments into the R&D sector of the construction and transportation industry since 2004. The budget for the sector was set at 151.9 billion won for this year, a double-fold surge from 2004, and the budget will double next year over the year. The ministry aims to raise the R&D portion of the ministry's budget to the 3 percent level or about 500 billion won by 2007.
The ministry also came up with the Construction Transportation R&D Reform Plan, dubbed "APEX 2010"this past October to keep investment efficiency to a maximum on top of an expansion of investment scale. APEX, a combination of such words as Advanced, Performance-based, Efficient and excellent, indicates performance-oriented, efficient, excellent and advanced R&D project reform regime. nw
Nam In-hee, deputy minister of Headquarters for Infrastructures at the Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT)