A 3,000-tonne barge is removed from the river yesterday after it crashed into a pillar of the Ghềnh bridge on March 20. Bridge repairs will begin Friday and are expected to be completed on July 15. -- VNA/VNS Photo Sỹ Tuyên
HCM CITY — The collapse of the Ghềnh bridge that shut down the North-South railway left businesses struggling with a big surge in transport costs.
The bridge, crossing the Đồng Nai River, collapsed on March 20 after a barge crashed into its pillar, making the Sài Gòn Station in HCM City and Sóng Thần Station in the neighbouring Đồng Nai Province completely isolated from the transnational railway line.
Cargo that used to be shipped to those two stations is now being transported to three small stations in Đồng Nai, including Long Khánh, Trảng Bom and Hố Nai, leading to a sudden overload in cargo deliveries.
A representative of the Kim Thành Phát Transport Company said the company had to turn to Hố Nai station, located 30km away from the company’s usual loading site at Sóng Thần, which made their costs increase by about 40 per cent.
Worse still, the roads leading to Hố Nai are narrow and suffer from traffic jams due to a surge of transport trucks travelling between the two stations.
In addition to the burden on transport firms, manufacturers and goods distributors are also at higher risk of missing deadlines with their business partners.
An Trung Phong Company representative Lế Tiến Dũng said the company was unable to deliver about 500 tonnes of cargo to its partners on time.
“After the Ghềnh bridge incident, my company’s transport fees shot up by 100 per cent,” Dũng said. “We could lose hundreds of million đồng a month if this situation continues.”
Sóng Thần Station Head Trần Thị Cư said the Ghềnh Bridge collapse was the biggest incident in the history of the national railway industry, which cost the station about 13,370 tonnes of cargo a week on average, or VNĐ8.15 billion (US$362,200).
Meanwhile, Việt Nam Railways (VNR) has proposed to move 150 train carriages stuck in the Sài Gòn Station following the collapse of the Ghềnh Bridge to another station to brace for the upcoming holiday season.
Passengers from HCM City now have to reach the Biên Hòa Station in Đồng Nai Province by road before they can catch a northbound train.
VNR Chairman Trần Ngọc Thành said 50 passenger carriages and another 100 for cargo transportation are still stuck in the Sài Gòn station while two long holidays are nearing. Vietnamese will have three days off for the Hùng Kings’ Festival in mid-April and another four days for the Reunification Day and International Labour Day.
Thành asked the Ministry of Transport to let those 150 carriages be transferred to the Biên Hòa, Trảng Bom and Hố Nai stations to prepare for the expected travel peak next month.
The North-South railway is expected to resume no sooner than August. The Ghềnh bridge, which will undergo construction beginning April 1, is expected to take from three to five months to be ready for railway transport again. — VNS