HCM City to improve waterway transit management

Update: April, 03/2018 - 09:00
People visit tourist attractions in HCM City by boat. Tourism operator Saigontourist offers waterway tours including trips from HCM City’s Tân Cảng Port to Bến Bình in southern Bình Dương Province, mangrove forests in Cần Giờ District and Vàm Sát Eco Tourism Area. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hiếu
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — HCM City authorities are set to step up oversight of inland waterway transport to ensure safety and smoother movement of goods and passengers.

The HCM City Waterway Traffic Police will crack down on unregistered vessels, overloaded ones and those that do not comply with technical safety specifications.

Skippers without proper qualifications will be fined.

Inspections will focus on vessels transporting building materials like sand and gravel and encroachment of banks on both sides, which used to be vacant to serve during times of emergencies on the water.

“We will carry our regular patrols and inspections of boats to stop violations such as overloading and plying without life jackets for passengers,” Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper quoted an unnamed police official as saying.

The traffic police will collaborate with local authorities to regularly conduct training courses on waterway traffic laws and analyse the main causes of accidents.

City transport inspectors are collaborating with relevant authorities to review accident-prone places.

In Bình Chánh District, the Urban Management Sub-department will co-operate with the natural resources and environment and transport departments to shut down illegal wharfs and other works on rivers which threaten the safety of inland waterway transport.

It will also urge relevant authorities not to issue or extend licences for storage facilities on rivers and canals and along their banks.

Potential threats

Most vessel owners and skippers lack awareness of waterway traffic safety.

Thus, overloaded barges and ships and passengers without lifebuoys are a common sight in the city’s rivers and canals.

Many vessels have been found not meeting safety standards and captains lacking the qualifications to pilot their vessels.

Illegal encroachment of banks by houses and storage facilities is very common in districts 7, 8, 9, Thủ Dức, Cần Giờ, Nhà Bè, and Bình Chánh.

In Bình Chánh alone there are 10 illegal wharfs on the Cần Giuộc and Chợ Đệm rivers and the Ngang, Xáng – An Hạ Canal.

They have existed for many years and been fined multiple times but they stubbornly remain in place.

Such illegal constructions in waterway transport corridors and illegal sand and soil mining, which have changed the water course and eroded riverbanks in many places, are major factors in the increasing number of accidents.

Promoting waterway transport

Plans have been unveiled to improve transportation in the city’s 975km of riverways.

During the last decade the city has focused on land transport to tackle traffic congestion, especially at its gates and near ports.

From now through 2020 the city plans to mobilise investment from the private sector in waterway transport infrastructure.

For instance, this year the Bình Lợi Bridge in Bình Thạnh District will be upgraded, enabling transport of goods from Tây Ninh and Bình Dương provinces to ports in HCM City and Cái Mép Port in Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu Province.

Dredging of canals will help link the Sài Gòn and Đồng Nai Rivers.

Rivers like Vàm Cỏ Đông, Chợ Đệm, Bến Lức, Rạch Dơi and Kinh will be dredged, while the Ông Nhiêu, Rạch Đĩa and Rạch Dơi bridges will be upgraded to facilitate passenger and cargo transport from HCM City to Long An and Tây Ninh provinces.

Ports and piers along the Sài Gòn River will be moved to suburban areas, while wharves will be built or upgraded on the Đồng Nai, Nhà Bè and Thị Vải rivers.

The Trường Thọ Inland Container Depot will be relocated and upgraded.

A 6ha river port, to be built in a hi-tech park, will be able to berth 1,000 tonne vessels. — VNS