Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mekong Delta faces ports shortage

14:24' 12/09/2008 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Twenty per cent of the existing ports and 35 per cent of wharves in the Mekong Delta are not fit for operation, according to the statistics of the Portcoast Consultant Corporation — one of the leading waterway advisory companies in Vietnam.

Ships cannot dock at ten ports along the Hau River due to silt build-up, but instead, dock at ports in HCM City for import and export, adding to a backlog of freight and a rise in transport costs.

Besides ports and wharves designated for specific goods, there are no ports of a provincial level in the delta, the company reported.

Meanwhile, 65 per cent of shipping and 32 per cent of transportation in the Mekong Delta is via waterways, double the national percentage.

Currently 70 per cent of goods to and from the Mekong Delta, estimated at 12.5 million tonnes per year, have reportedly been transported through the Dinh An estuary, the major waterway of the region.

However, Dinh An estuary cannot handle vessels of over 5,000 dead weight tonnage (DWT) due to the recent accumulation of silt from Hau River, while the local authorities expected that import and export volumes shipped via waterways in the delta would increase up to 22 million tonnes per year in 2020.

Ships cannot dock at ten ports along the Hau River due to silt build-up, but instead, dock at ports in HCM City for import and export, adding to a backlog of freight and a rise in transport costs.

The Viet Nam Inland Waterway Department has plans to further development for waterway transportation through 2020, including providing a way for vessels of high DWT to travel along the delta's waterways, plus upgrading local boats and ferries to a capacity of at least 300 DWT.

Modernising traffic posts in the western South of Vietnam is also among its planned measures to improve waterway traffic in the delta.

The Ministry of Transport also planned a waterway transportation project to upgrade the Quan Chanh Bo Canal to facilitate 20,000 DWT ships to travel on the Hau River, which would ease the traffic burden for the Dinh An estuary.

The project is estimated to cost US$200 million and is expected to start at the end of this year, if approved by the Prime Minister. The project will take approximately five years for completion.

However, local officials are calling for the dredging of Dinh An estuary to facilitate 5,000-10,000 DWT vessels' travelling, which is now the top priority until the project is finished.