|A Vina Express ship transports passengers from Hai Phong City to Cat Ba Island. The transport ministry has approved a project to mobilise social capital for investment in waterway transport facilities.— VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan
HA NOI (VNS) – The Ministry of Transport has approved a plan to empower businesses to exploit the railways and waterways on the Lao Cai-Hai Phong route. The plan is aimed at reducing the overloading of the land route.
According to officials from Hai Phong Transport Department, large amounts of goods pass through Hai Phong ports, but 70 per cent are then transported by land, 20 per cent by water, and only 3 per cent by rail.
Currently, rail transport from Lao Cai to Hai Phong goes from Lao Cai to Ha Noi and then from Ha Noi to Hai Phong. Goods are continuously loaded and unloaded at stations en route.
Freight forwarders complain that goods are often damaged during loading at stations.
Meanwhile, chairman of the management board of the Waterway Transport Corporation (VIVASO), Nguyen Thuy Nguyen, said river transport from Lao Cai to Hai Phong had faced difficulties. This was because transporters wanted to transport goods directly from warehouses to the door of selling agents.
But in the dry season, the water level was not stable and the rivers often needed dredging to allow the passage of bigger vessels.
Although river transport fees in the dry season is 10 times lower than land transport, fewer businesses use the service.
Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang said the fees for waterway transport were low but could not attract customers. He described it as an "unacceptable fact".
To create favorable conditions for transport-bound businesses as well promote railway and water transport, Thang asked the Viet Nam Domestic Waterway Department to empower VIVASO to exploit the Lao Cai-Hai Phong waterway transport route.
Under the plan, VIVASO will be authorised to invest in dredging river beds, maintaining facilities and providing transport services.
The ministry also asked the Viet Nam Domestic Waterway Department and the ministry's law department to compile regulations on river transport fees and review legal documents relating to investment and infrastructure development to apply experimentally on the Lao Cai –Hai Phong waterway route.
It is hoped the regulations can be extended on other routes nationwide. The plan will help promote connection of waterways, railways and roads.
The transport sector has also compiled a master plan to increase the capacity of waterway transport.
The transport ministry recently approved a project to mobilise social capital for investment in waterway transport facilities.
The arrangement will mean the ministry will mobilise about VND12,600 billion (US$590 million) from many sources for 45 infrastructure projects over the next five years.
This year, the ministry will mobilise capital under the model of build-operate-transfer (BOT) for two projects to upgrade the Cho Gao canal (phase 2) using a VND91.400 billion investment, and a waterway transport route along the Sai Gon River.
"If the two projects are implemented, some waterway route will be reborn which help to connect with the railway transport route and increase domestic transport capacity as well," said an official with the Viet Nam Domestic Waterway Department.
Other waterway transport infrastructure projects with big potential include upgrading the Viet Tri - Uong Bi route and routes along Ham Luong River in the Mekong Delta and Duong River.
The ministry will allow investors to collect service fees or trade sand after dredging, and offer assistance to ensure the projects are effective.
For projects involving ports, stations and railway-waterway linkage, the ministry will permit investors to collect the fees on the spot by setting up fee collecting stations.
The ministry has told the project management board to draw up plans for calling for investment capital. — VNS