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Vietnam’s Sea Port System’s needs for existence and development
By Shipping Times, Sep 2009


At the meeting of Vietnam Business Forum recently held by the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the World Bank (WB) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment as to prepare for the consultant Conference for investors in Vietnam, the shortcomings of Vietnam’s sea port system have been critically put forward and warned to take negative effects on the foreign investment in coming years.

Below are foreign investors’ comments on the Vietnam’s sea port system and some main characteristics of Vietnam’s sea port planning in next years.


Access roads and logistics: poor in quality


According to the 2008 statistics of Vietnam maritime Administration, the total cargo throughput gained 196.58 million tons and container cargos won 5.023 million TEU. However, Vietnam is, up to now, still short of important infrastructure system network, especially power, sea ports and transport infrastructure connecting ports such as roads and bridges. The issue, if not satisfactorily surmounted, is surely to take considerably negative impacts on FDI capital’s investment in the Southern motive economic Zone.

As recommended by the IFC, it is essential to continue to promote infrastructure development, particularly sea port system and access roads connecting sea ports with industrial zones in order to enhance the ability of competition and the attraction of foreign investment. Foreign enterprises have been urging Vietnam’s relevant authorities to offer a speedy solution to this issue. The chairman of European Commercial and Industrial Department in Vietnam – Mr Alain Cany says: “The demand of container transport is sharply increasing, which creates significant challenges to the ability of accommodation of berths and sea ports in Vietnam. This is an extremely important issue which, if not being comprehensively surmounted, is to considerably restrict the coming foreign investment”. He also adds that some projects supporting container ports such as deep-water channels and access road system have not yet been in sufficient investment.

According to the US’s potential investors, the lack of infrastructure and logistics is an existing significant shortcoming of the Vietnam’s sea port system. This issue has also been mentioned for many times by the US Commercial and Industrial Department (Amcham) at the meetings of Vietnam Business Forum (VBF).

“Repeatedly, Vietnam still lacks important infrastructure system, especially power, sea ports and transport infrastructure connecting sea ports such as roads and bridges” says Mr Thomas Siebert, the Chairman of Amcham in the recent exchange between foreign investors and the representative of the Vietnam’s Government. According to the Amcham, the lacks of infrastructure in Vietnam shall take negative effects on the FDI captial’s present and coming investment in the export and industry. As stated by Mr Barry Akbar, the member of sea port subcommittee of the VBF, National highway 51, in spite of being a central gateway of the Southern motive industrial Zone, has found it impossible to ensure the smoothness of increasing road traffic, which leads to being constantly stuck as a result. Mr Akbar also puts forward to speed up the National highway 51 expasion project in order to connect Bien Hoa with Vung Tau and and to satisfy the ability of accommodation of increasing containers. Moreover, it is proposed to construct a central branch for Ho Chi Minh – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Highway Line and to promote the construction of Bien Hoa – Vung Tau Highway Line connecting main industrial zones in Dong Nai with deep-water ports.

“More pressure is to be put on the ‘shoulder’ of the National highway 51 due to hundreds of tons of cargos to be transported on this route. As thus, the national highway 51 expansion project has been prepared to be deployed in the fourth quarter of 2009 by the Ministry of Transport, with 72km in length and 6 lanes, and 2.000 billion VND investment capital” says Mr Nguyen Ngoc Hue, the Deputy Chief of Department of Customs in Vietnam.

Expectedly, in addition to Ho Chi Minh – Long Thanh – Dau Giay highway project, Bien Hoa – Vung Tau Highway is to be commenced in 2011, at 4-6 lane level. Also, Vinalines is planned to commence Lach Huyen port area, a central area of Hai Phong port, which can accommodate up-to 50.000 – 80.000 DWT vessels with the capacity of 4.000 – 6.000 TEU.

On schedule, from now to 2015, the Government is to concentrate on the investment and development of ports and channels such as Hai Phong port complex (Lach Huyen mainly), Cai Mep – Thi Vai port complex, Ho Chi Minh port complex on Soai Rap river and Can Tho port complex on the Bassac river and the construction of general and container port berths in Cai Mep – Thi Vai berth area, Hiep Phuoc area, and specialized berths in service of exporting refined crude oil in Nghi Son and Long Son Petroleum Refineries and coal ports serving thermoelectric Plants.


2030-bound Sea Port System Planning: Future


According to the 2020 up-to and 2030-bound Sea Port System Planning Project in Vietnam submitted to the Prime Minister by the Ministry of Transport, the Vientam’s most modern sea port group is to be shaped in Thi Vai river area, motivating economic development in the south in particular and in the country in general, says Mr Nguyen Ngoc Hue, the Deputy Chief of Department of Customs in Vietnam.

Upon the comment of specialists, the current project exhibits many new changes in order to target the modernization and synchronous development of sea port system in Vietnam.

First of all is “port government committee” model. According to Mr Nguyen Manh Ung, the Deputy Director of Portcoast Consultant Corporation, the project is characterized by many new principles, outlooks and objectives of development as to speedily surmount the shortcomings, to sharply integrate with the world’s economies, to maximally take advantages of natural conditions and to comprehensively and appropriately develop the Vietnam’s sea port system, i.e. the scale of development and location of sea ports are to be extremely concretely calculated based on the natural conditions, the need of regional economic development and the interaction with nearby sea ports, which helps solve the fact of artificial redundancy of sea ports and lack of synchronism of technical infrastructure. For details, traffic routes are to be constructed to uninterruptedly link power and water supply system…, especially logistics and national transport network with sea ports. Correspondingly, in the sea port system development master plan, it is required to call for stronger investment in sea port infrastructure system, not only in port piers and berths (as presently) but also in public infrastructure like channels and breakwaters.

An entirely new issue in the master plan is “port government committee” model. The model is to unify the management of ports in the whole area and to avoid the fact of pettiness and lack of synchronism. “Port government committee” does not replace local authority but is offered a hand from local authority.

A next concerning issue is that Hai Phong port complex, in the exchange between the Ministry of Transport and the Hai Phong People’s Committee, has been specified to be an international gateway system (Type 1A), belonging to the national general port and the most typical of the Northern area. Mr Nguyen Van Thanh, the permanent Deputy Chairman of Hai Phong People’s Committee states that 04 main berths namely Lach Huyen, Dinh Vu, Cam river (Hai Phong city) and Chanh river (Yen Hung, Quang Ninh) are, in coming years, to be constructed in Hai Phong port system. Additionally, some other small specialized berths are expected to be constructed as “satellites” in the system. In future, Hai Phong port system is to be one of the 17 type 1 sea port complexes, including 28 berths.


Recently, the interdiscriplinary mission comprising the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance and relevant Offices and Departments have worked with Ho Chi Minh People’s Committee on the sea port system development. The parties have all agreed on targeting the maximum development of Ho Chi Minh area sea ports to be put into the master plan. Upon the master plan, sea ports in Ho Chi Minh area are to be a type 1 group whose main channel is Soai Rap. The ports in Ho Chi Minh area are to be developed mainly in Hiep Phuoc area, Nha Be district. In parallel with the ports, Hiep Phuoc urban ports are to be promptly deployed by Ho Chi Minh city, taking a part in the establishment and development of sea port system in this area. Hence, the development of sea port system in Ho Chi Minh city has, basically, been matching the scenario of the Vietnam’s 2030-bound sea port system development prepared by the Ministry of Transport.

Nguyễn Tuân
(translated by Portcoast)


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