Viet Nam News -
HÀ NAM (VNS) –– Locals in this northern province are concerned about the spontaneous appearance of ports and quays that pose a serious threat to waterway transport safety and disrupt the locals’ lives.
The problem has affected the Đáy River in Thanh Liêm District’s Thanh Tân Commune for years, but local authorities have not yet presented any solutions.
Some 30 adjoining ports and quays stretch across the commune’s river, making the area look like a large construction site, with many machines, trucks and ships working around the clock, reported the Đại Đoàn Kết (Great Unity) newspaper .
Vehicles transporting soil, stones and building materials to the ports for loading onto ships discharge a great deal of dust, causing pollution.
“Many households in the area have to hang curtains and install glass doors to prevent dust from entering their homes, but their furniture is still covered with a thick layer of dust anyway,” Đinh Văn Hoàng, a local, said.
“Many residents suffer from lung diseases, even cancers. Children in particular often have coughs,” he added.
Further, vehicles operating at these ports and quays are disrupting the locals’ lives.
“Hundreds of trucks enter and exit the ports each day, seriously damaging the roads in the commune. The noise of the engines from the trucks, ships and barges gives people a headache and distracts the children from their studies,” Trần Thu Liên, a resident, said.
Locals here are always afraid of being run over by trucks when they travel on the roads, she added.
Đinh Văn Đoàn, chairman of the commune’s People’s Committee, said in the past few years, mining activities have been stepped up, so many ports and quays have been built illegally along the river, causing pollution in the area.
There are 28 quays owned by 18 companies and households operating in the commune, but only two companies have been licensed for domestic port activities by the authorities. The others only have contracts with the committee for renting land along the river to store their building materials, he said.
These contracts will expire by the end of this year, and only one contract will last until the end of 2017. The fee for renting land here is nearly VNĐ100 million (US$4,440) per year, he added.
Waterway security threatened
The spontaneous appearance of so many ports and quays and loose management by the authorities has not only affected people’s lives but also threatens traffic safety on the Đáy River.
The ports and quays have narrowed the river, creating obstacles for vehicles and the flow of water. There are no signal lights or signs for traffic separation at these illegal ports, which worries the ships’ helmsmen.
“We really worry when steering our ships along Đáy River through Thanh Tân Commune because the ports’ activities here are confusing,” Trần Văn Kiên, a helmsman, said. “The ships enter and exit the ports in a disorderly fashion without using any signal lights. Sometimes, while steering our ships, another ship suddenly emerges from the port and blocks our way. It is hard to pilot ships through this river section.”
According to a local, the illegal ports and quays have caused many waterway accidents in the area.
It is necessary for the local authorities to take steps to control and manage these ports to ensure traffic safety and to eliminate the locals’ concerns. ––VNS