Viet Nam News
HCM CITY -- Despite the increasing challenges facing land transport, HCM City has yet to use nearly 1,000km of rivers and canals for the purpose.
The city has 109 rivers and canals with a combined length of 973km, including shipping and inland waterway routes.
Figures from the city Department of Transport reveal that there are also 40 seaports with a total length of 13,959 metres of piers, and 342 inland river ports.
But these facilities are not fully operational despite the rising traffic problems on land.
According to Nguyễn Ngọc Thạch, director of the port authority of the Zone 3 Inland Waterway Department, the city can only exploit 3 per cent of its waterways due to problems like narrow passages and low bridges.
The low clearance (of less than 3 metres) of some 200 bridges in HCM City is one of the main hindrances to waterway passenger and cargo transport.
Large volumes of goods transported from the 13 industrial parks in Bình Dương Province to HCM City cause serious congestion on Highway No 13, yet the section of Sài Gòn River in Bình Dương Province, which is nearly 20 meters deep and can allow large vessels and ferries to transport containers from these IPs, are unused.
The low clearance of Bình Lợi Bridge, at only 1.8 metres, hinders transport down the river.
But the Tẻ, Đội and Chợ Đệm – Bến Lức canals, which connect HCM City with other provinces, are only deep enough for vessels of up to 500 DWT, and the city should invest in dredging them so that they can accommodate 1,000 DWT vessels, Thạch said.
Besides, the Bình Lợi Bridge must be raised to enable the use of the Sài Gòn River for transport to Bình Phước, Bình Dương, Đồng Nai and the Southern Focal Economic Zone Area, he said.
Rising land transport costs
HCM City is a transit hub for cargo transportation, but 70 per cent of the cargo transported from the Mekong Delta provinces to ports in HCM City are carried by land because the waterways are not navigable.
But since land transport costs are higher, the transport costs increase by 10-60 per cent.
According to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, all four waterway routes linking HCM City Sea Port (on the Soài Rạp River) with the Cần Thơ City Sea Port (on the Hậu River) run through the Chợ Gạo Canal, making it congested.
The bridges along the route, such as Nàng Hai, Măng Thít and Trà Ôn, all have low clearance, causing problems for vessels carrying cargo for import and export.
The institute called for investing in river routes between HCM City and the Mekong Delta, including in upgrade of the Chợ Gạo Canal and a part of the Măng Thít River.
It also called for spending on upgrades to the ports of An Phước (in Vĩnh Long Province) and Long Bình (in HCM City) to increase their container handling capacity.VNS