Former PM KIET throws weight behind Port Plan

By Vietnam Investment Review, 23/05/2005

A meeting to discuss the construction of a seaport capable of receiving heavy-tonnage ships in view of rapid development in the Mekong Delta was held in Ho Chi Minh City by the Ministry of Transport last week with the participation of former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet..

Can Tho Port, the largest in the Mekong Delta, can only receive ships of 3,000-5,000 dwt because the Dinh An estuary's waterway, which links Can Tho Port to the sea, usually silts up to a depth of only three metres, resulting in the need for 70-80 per cent of export goods from the Mekong Delta to be transported by road to ports in Ho Chi Minh City.

This results in the prime cost of products to rise as well as creating road congestion in the region and an increase in road accidents.

To deal with the situation, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai signed Decision 160/QD-TTg in early March 2005 to establish an inter-branch team to study the Can Tho Port�s capacity to receive larger ships.

Before this meeting, ex-Prime Minister Kiet and Portcoast Company, a seaport designing-consulting company under the Ministry of Transport, and a team of foreign consultants went on a field trip to survey the Dinh An estuary.

At the meeting, consultants from the Netherlands� Royal Haskoning and Canada�s SNC Lavalin presented the results of the survey of the Dinh An estuary.

According to the consultants, to dredge the estuary to the necessary depth of 6.5 metres navigable for fully-loaded 10,000dwt ships and half-loaded 20,000dwt ships, it is necessary to dredge up about 10 million cubic metres of mud from the canal bed.

But, according to the consultants, this work will not last a long time, and about a year later the estuary will silt up again.

The consultants concluded that it is not possible to develop Can Tho Port through the dredging of the Dinh An estuary.

A new solution was proposed to open another entrance to Can Tho Port.

According to the consultants, the Hau River flows to the sea not only via the Dinh An estuary, but also through the Quan Chanh Bo canal.

So it is possible to use the 20 km-long, 150-200 metre-wide Quan Chanh Bo canal instead of the Dinh An estuary�s waterway.

The 6.5 metre-deep Quan Chanh Bo canal can be made longer to reach the sea by cutting a 10-kilometre-long canal at a place situated between the Dinh An estuary of the Hau River and the Cung Hau estuary of the Tien River.

To prevent possible alluvial deposits in this place, the consultants proposed constructing two embankments at 1.5km and 2.5 km long.

He said he hoped work could commence in 2006 and be completed in 2010. The majority of representatives of the Mekong Delta provinces agreed to this solution. They also recommended deeper research into the effect of the project on the environment once the new waterway is open to heavy-tonnage ships.

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