CA MAU (VNS)— An Australian firm has unveiled a plan to build a US$3.5 billion deep-water seaport on Hon Khoai Island, roughly 15km off the southwest coast of Nam Can District in the southernmost province of Ca Mau.
The Ca Mau People's Committee has submitted a proposal to build the port to the government, and is awaiting official approval pending the project's inclusion into the national zoning plan for ports.
Meanwhile, Australia-based N&M Commodities Pty Ltd is completing necessary administrative procedures for going ahead with the project.
According to Ca Mau Province's Department of Planning and Investment, the 320ha deep-water port will have 12 transshipment berths. Six of these will be used for loading coal, two for transporting containers, two for transporting oil, and the rest for other commodities.
The transshipment berths will be deep enough to receive vessels of 250,000 DWT.
The total investment for the project is estimated at $2.9 billion, of which $1.1 billion will be used for building facilities and the rest for developing infrastructure. The port's construction is expected to begin at the end of 2016.
However, on its website, the Australian company says the project will cost $3.5 billion.
"It will cater for coal, bulk goods, container and RORO (roll-on/roll-off) berth plus two petroleum and LNG berths all capable of taking the largest vessels afloat.
"The Mega Port project, the biggest ever infrastructure project between Australia and Viet Nam, is set to break many records in logistical efficiency, capacity, security and most of all sustainability," the company says.
Once completed, the Hon Khoai Seaport is expected to become the gateway to Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta and HCM City. It will also become one of two leading ports in Viet Nam for industrial centres in the region.
With piers to bridge the port with the mainland in Ca Mau's Nam Can District, a link will be established with the transnational R10 route that runs through Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.
The pier linking the port with the mainland will have two lanes and a railroad that will be used for transporting containers.
Mai Huu Chinh, director of Ca Mau Province's Department of Planning and Investment, said the project has not been approved officially, and is waiting to be included in the national plan for developing Viet Nam's port system.
"However, it's likely that the project breaks ground early next year," Chinh said.
In response to Ca Mau's proposal, the Prime Minister has directed the ministries of Transport and Industry and Trade to consider including Hon Khoai Port in the country's port system.
The Mega Port Multi Cargo Facility is expected to become a commodity transport hub that supports logistics development in the Mekong Delta and helps reduce traffic burden in HCM City.
It is also designed to become a wholesale market for coal by importing the commodity via a designated port and wharves to serve thermal power plants in the Mekong Delta.
The potato-shaped island has an area of 561ha and off-shore water depth of between five to 27 metres, which is considered suitable for building deep-water seaports.
The island belongs to Ngoc Hien District's Dat Mui Commune. It has so far remained free of exploitation.
It has been described as a "pearl of the cape" and an ideal site for developing eco-tourism. It is not clear how the new project will impact such plans.
Local officials say that upon formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is targeted to happen at the end of 2015, the port will play a strategic role in enhancing sea links with ports in Cambodia, Thailand and other countries in the region, boosting commodity transportation and tourism development.
More importantly, it will supplement the first stage of the Southern Coastal Corridor that links Viet Nam. Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. A 52km-long section of the corridor that runs through Ca Mau is under construction.
The project will also match with the 11,000ha Nam Can Economic Zone that has been approved by the government, creating a huge impetus for socio-economic development in the province and the delta.
They also say that when completed, the new port and the corridor will create new competitive advantages for Ca Mau, which will not only become an important economic area in the Mekong Delta, but also as a business gateway for ASEAN countries.
Call for investment
The southernmost province of Viet Nam is one of the four provinces belonging to an important economic zone in the Mekong Delta.
The nation's biggest shrimp exporter is 350km from HCM City and 180km from Can Tho.
In recent years, Ca Mau's economy has expanded by over 12 per cent annually.
Last year, the province's GDP was VND3.13 trillion, a 10 per cent increase year-on-year. Its export turnover was $910 million.
Ca Mau, which used to be considered among the remotest and poorest provinces in the country, is calling for investment into 38 major projects in several fields including industrial zones, commercial centres, urban areas, transport, food processing and tourism development. — VNS