|One of the ships already dredging mud from the Soai Rap River in HCM City. After the work is done under a Belgium-funded project, the river will be able to receive vessels with a loading capacity of more than 70,000 tonnes. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan
HCM CITY (VNS)— The dredger Uilenspiegel arrived in HCM City's Saigon port on Sunday as part of the second phase of a Belgian-funded project to increase the depth of the Soai Rap River so that it can accommodate larger ships.
The ship will dredge 54 kilometres of the Soai Rap River, creating a shorter route for vessels coming from the sea into Hiep Phuoc Port area in Nha Be District.
The ship, 142.8 metres long and 26.8 metres wide, has a container of 13,700 cubic metres, and can dredge up to 70,000 cubic metres of mud a day.
In addition to the Uilenspiegel, about 30 smaller ships are also being used to dredge the river. The ship is operated under a contract signed between the Soai Rap River Dredging Investment Management Board under the HCM City Transport Department and the Belgium-based Dredging International NV Company.
The project's second phase is expected to be finished by April next year.
At least 54 kilometres of water will be dredged, increasing the river's depth to 11.5 metres, according to the board.
Originally, the river had a depth of five to six metres, but in the first phase (2009-10) of the project, the river was dredged to a depth of 9.5 metres, allowing vessels of 40,000-50,000DWT to traverse it. After the second phase, the Hiep Phuoc Port in HCM City's Nha Be District will be able to receive larger ships with a loading capacity of 50,000-70,000DWT.
The final phase of the project will dredge this same section of the river to a depth of 12 metres, allowing it to receive vessels with a loading capacity of more than 70,000 tonnes by 2015.
Of the investment of nearly VND2.8 trillion (US$134 million), VND2.2 trillion ($105 million) comes from Belgian Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and the rest from the city budget.
Nguyen Van Cong, Deputy Minister of Transport, said the project would help increase connectivity among seaports and enhance logistics and export services in HCM City.
A representative from the Viet Nam Seaports Association said dredging the Soai Rap River would help to reduce transport costs and make Vietnamese products more competitive.
The use of the Soai Rap River, together with Cai Mep – Thi Vai River in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, is expected to help the southern economic zone become one of the country's most important zones and Hiep Phuoc Port one of the major ports in the region. — VNS