HCM CITY (VNS)— Large vessels cannot travel directly from the East Sea into ports in HCM City because the Soai Rap River is not wide or deep enough. Instead, they must follow an 85-km route from Vung Tau to the Sai Gon River, taking up a lot of time.
But this distance will be cut in half when a project to dredge the Soai Rap River, now in its second phase, is completed. The project, which began on Saturday, will allow larger vessels to travel up the river into the Hiep Phuoc Port complex in HCM City's Nha Be District (No 24).
The project will dredge 54-km of water, increasing the river's depth to 11.5m, according to the Soai Rap River Dredging Project Investment Management Board, under the jurisdiction of the city's Transport Department. Originally, the river had a depth of 5-6 metres, but in the first phase (2009-10), the river was dredged to a depth of 9.5m, allowing vessels of 30,000-50,000DWT to traverse it.
After the second phase, the Hiep Phuoc Port complex will be able to receive larger ships with loading capacities of 50,000 – 70,000DWT.
The final phase of the project will dredge this section of the river to a depth of 12m, allowing it to receive vessels with loading capacity of more than 70,000 tonnes by 2015.
The second phase, with an investment of nearly VND2.8 trillion (US$134 million) of which VND2.2 trillion ($105 million) comes from Belgian ODA loans and the rest from the city budget, is expected to be finished in 16 months.
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 in addition to boosting the sea economy of the Mekong Delta.
A representative from the Viet Nam Seaports Association said dredging the Soai Rap River would help not only reduce transport costs but also make Vietnamese products more competitive.
Soai Rap, together with the Cai Mep-Thi Vai River in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, would help the southern economic zone become one of the country's most important economic zones and make Hiep Phuoc Port one of the major ports not only in the region but also globally, said Tran The Ky, deputy director of the city's Department of Transport.
According to Ky, the city also planned to improve the road system that connects to the port.
A 2-km road would be built to link Sai Gon-Hiep Phuoc Port with the road system. Then a 2.2-km road would be added to connect Hiep Phuoc industrial park with the Ba Chiem traffic circle in District 7.
These would be finished concurrently with the dredging of the Soai Rap River, he said. — VNS