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Sea port infrastructure: hard to disentangle without being synchronous
By sgtt.com.vn, 01 Aug 2009

Theme 2: The whole area waiting for opening to traffic

SGTT - Vietnam’s first two deep-water Terminals are located in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province, where container vessels are unknown to the customs. Lack of synchronism and working transfer between Ho Chi Minh city and Ba Ria – Vung Tau province has led to “ abnormal and funny” things.

Photo: Thuỳ Vân

According to the planning, Thi Vai Terminal chiefly depends on 3 main road routes: inter-port Road,  Highway 51 and Bien Hoa – Vung Tau high-speed Road. Apart from  Highway 51, the others are still unfinished. In a short time, Highway 51 will surely find it extremely difficult to handle even only a half of number of containers from Ho Chi Minh city to Cai Mep Terminal after the accomplishment of port relocation.

Barrier to approach

Regarding the new road system serving the deep-water Terminals, both investors and transporters feel uneasy. They assume that container traffic jams will recur in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province like in Ho Chi Minh city. Vietnam’s first two deep-water Terminals are weekly shipping Vessels’ cargoes by modern equipment. Meanwhile, the road connecting Highway 51 with the Terminal is still full of pot-holes and the roadside houses are even uncleared away.

In fact, the Government’s assistance is considered to be very necessary to implement the long-term strategy for terminal planning. For this reason, synchronous complete transport system is the connection between Terminals and industrial zones and logistics centers. In reality, it takes a average of about 3 years to construct a Terminal while it takes a much longer time to construct a infrastructure system consisting of road, railway, telecommunications, electricity and water. As the road is not yet constructed, the Terminal will find it impossible to enter into operation. The two new-born deep-water Terminals are now accommodating containers mainly by barges. However, in future, cargoes from the surrounding industrial zones in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Dong Nai will be transported to the Terminal by the road. Therefore, employers will run into considerable difficulties if the road is still unfinished.

The estuary where vessels can enter Thi Vai deep-water Terminal is bumpy as well. The area near the buoy no 8 of about 500m is only about 9.4m deep. Thus, for safety, vessels should enter the Terminal after the tide lifts the depth of additional 3.2m. Besides, the fishery on Thi Vai river is making difficulties for container vessels’s operation. At present, in addition to tug boats, there should be a cano to get ahead to clear the way for vessels’ operation. According to an operator of a shipping Agent, no matter how loudly a vessel’s steam whistle is blown, fishermen keep casting fishing-net phlegmatically.

And… other unexpected barriers

On the first days of the deep-water Terminals’ operation, customs officers will have to get used to TEU unit in shipping containers because the customs in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province made formalities for only bulk cargo ships before. Definitely, in the first voyages, shipping Agents will find it very hard to work with port authorites, pilots and customs because the concept of container is still so fresh to them.

It is difficult to avoid such barriers, but this does not mean that there is no solution. According to Mr Do Van Minh, the Director General of Gemadept company, the throughput of the deep-water Terminals which economically helps our cargoes not be shipped around, loaded and discharged has been a long pace of developments. The problem taken care of by shipping Agents is the time and the investment speed because they are the key barriers to the operation of the deep-water Terminal on Thi Vai river as Transit Terminal. Practically, to attract customers, a transit Terminal should attach logistics. At present, the planning of supply and repair services refers to supplies of drinks, food and gas only. For repair service, Vietnam finds it impossible to compete with other countries. Mr Minh also adds that since ship accessories have to be imported from Singapore, the cost and time of ship repair have no competitive advantages.  

However, according to investors, most of all is the macro planning role of the State in order to avoid pettiness for short-term small individual benefits. The Government’s visibility of Port investment plays an important role in long-term development. In this circumstance, the empowerment of issuing investment license for local authorities will have considerable influences on scope of the project as well as post-port infrastructure status.

According to Mr Pham Anh Tuan, the Project Director of Portcoast Consultant Corporation, the infrastructure system and shipyard connecting with the Terminal on Thi Vai river will be accomplished in 2015 – 2020 on schedule.

Vỹ Tân
(Translated by Portcoast)

According to the Government’s planning, Thi Vai terminal belongs to the terminal Complex no 5. The former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, on the occasion of his visit to the terminal in 2005, forecasted the importance of the area. The former Prime Minister highlighted the synchronism, interconnection between Long Tau river, Saigon river and Thi Vai river and expressed his anxiety about the sign of petty partition and lack of co-operation. It is added that the waterway system is the common resource of the whole area and the motive of development not only to the Southern industrial zones but also to the Western highlands and the Mekong Delta. Therefore, the distribution of the planning should not be based on executive land boundary.

(Source from Portcoast Consultant Corporation)


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