|Dreding work has been resumed in Hau River. As finished, it is expected to allow ships of 10,000-20,000DWT to come into the river. — Photo baodautu.com.vn
HCM City (VNS) — Following a two-year delay due to financial difficulties, work to dredge and deepen the Hau River in the Mekong Delta has resumed after the National Assembly approved a VND6 trillion (US$300 million) Government bond issue to fund it.
The dredging was approved in 2007 as a project of national importance, and work began in 2009 in Duyen Hai District, Tra Vinh Province.
By the end of 2011, around VND1 trillion ($50 million) had been spent on the work when it came to a halt and could not be completed in 2013 as planned.
Since only 4,000-5,000 tonne vessels can navigate the Hau, 80 per cent of cargo transported by sea to the Mekong Delta transits through ports in places like HCM City, Dong Nai, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
This adds $8-15 to the cost of each tonne of cargo and 28–30 million tonnes pass through HCM City and other ports to the delta each year.
It is expected that by 2020 the volume would go up to 80-90 million tonnes and the additional cost to half a billion dollars. This cost does not even factor in problems like traffic jams, environmental pollution, damage to roads, and reduced quality since the products have to travel hundreds of kilometres by road to the delta.
The dredging is expected to cost around VND9.8 trillion ($500 million).
"Despite difficulties, the project will be finished by the end of 2015 with 46.5km of river [deepened] to allow ships of 10,000-20,000DWT to come into the Hau," Nguyen Nhat, head of the Viet Nam Marine Authority told Thoi Nay (Nowadays) newspaper.
Once the Hau becomes navigable for large vessels, 50 per cent of cargo headed for the delta will come through it, reducing import costs and also boosting the competitiveness of the region's exports.
It will also enable transport of Cambodian goods.
To recoup the cost of the dredging and restoration of ports along the river and maintain the route, ship owners will be asked to pay a fee of around one third of the cost of transporting goods from HCM City to the delta.
"In 2016 Lach Huyen Port in the northern coastal province of Hai Phong will be inaugurated together with the Hau River passage," Nhat said.
"With its ports in the central provinces and Cai Mep-Thi Vai and HCM City, Viet Nam will have a comprehensive port network," he said. — VNS