|A part of the Ben Tre River, one of the most important waterways in the southern province of Ben Tre. Waterways in the Mekong Delta will be dredged to accommodate larger vessels. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
CAN THO (VNS)— Business leaders in the Mekong Delta are urging authorities to dredge waterways and upgrade roads so that major ports in the region can accommodate larger vessels that now re-route their goods to better-equipped ports in HCM City.
The Cai Cui Port, the biggest in the Mekong Delta, which can receive vessels of 200,000 tonnes, is used at only 10-20 per cent of its capacity because huge vessels get stranded at Dinh An Passage before they enter the port.
The insufficiency of area ports, and the lack of roads and bridges, has led to underexploitation of the region's potential, Vo Hung Dung, director of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Can Tho chapter, was quoted recently as saying in the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
He said that more than 70 per cent of exported commodities from the Mekong Delta must be transported to HCM City.
Every year, a huge volume of fertiliser and raw materials have to be shipped to the Delta via ports in HCM City, leading to higher production expenses.
They said that construction of transport projects in the area had been done in a haphazard way, and that key projects that could increase growth in the region, such as Vam Cong Bridge, Trung Luong – Can Tho Freeway and HCM City – My Tho Railway, have yet to receive capital investments.
In addition, the Can Tho and Phu Quoc International Airports have not been fully exploited.
In the past, the Delta had one of the poorest transport systems in the country, but new highways, freeways and ports built in recent years have allowed more businesses to transport commodities.
Tourism and socio-economic development in the region has also increased as a result of the new transport projects, including the widening of National Highway No.1 from HCM City to the southernmost province of Ca Mau Province's Nam Can and construction of the HCM City – Trung Luong Freeway.
The Can Tho and Phu Quoc International Airports have also been put into use, and Rach Gia and Ca Mau Airports have been upgraded.
In addition, several waterway projects were built to boost links between HCM City and the Mekong Delta, and provinces within the Delta.
In response to the challenges, in April 2011, the Prime Minister issued a decision outlining tasks and providing directions on the development of transport infrastructure in the region through 2015, with orientation towards 2020.
The decision calls for sound plans that would ensure the "building of an interconnected system for multimodal transportation that meets the requirements of and boosts socio-economic development." — VNS