Boats in the Chợ Gạo canal in Tiền Giang Province. The Mekong Delta needs a special mechanism to improve its transport infrastructure to reduce logistics costs and boost competitiveness and exports of farm produce. — Photo sggp.org.vn
HCM CITY — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta region needs a special mechanism to improve its transport infrastructure to reduce logistics costs, bolster competitiveness and boost agricultural exports, Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể has said.
Speaking at a recent online meeting, Thể said his ministry would increase investment in transport infrastructure in the region with a focus on the Trung Lương – Mỹ Thuận expressway, especially its Mỹ Thuận 2 Bridge and Mỹ Thuận – Cần Thơ and Cần Thơ - Cà Mau sections.
It would work with provinces to solicit private investment in the HCM City – Cần Thơ railway, he said.
To fund the works, he proposed that the Government should issue bonds.
He also called on local provinces to focus on major projects such as Trần Đề Port and the Cần Thơ-Cà Mau, Châu Đốc-Cà Mau and Kiên Giang-Bạc Liêu expressways.
Lê Đỗ Mười, director of the Institute of Transport Strategy and Development, said infrastructure in the region has improved significantly in recent times, allowing businesses to buy agricultural products directly instead of through traders.
As of last year, the national highway network in the region stretched some 2,688km, 52 per cent longer than in 2002.
It has an inland waterways network of more than 6,100km and 12 ports with 7,642m of wharves, 23 berths and 16 transshipment areas.
Many ports have been built in the last 20 years, including Cái Cui - Cần Thơ port, Vinalines Hậu Giang port complex and Trà Cú - Trà Vinh port, which can berth ships of up to 20,000 DWT.
The Cần Thơ and Phú Quốc international airports and Cà Mau and Rạch Giá domestic airports have all been upgraded to have a total capacity of 7.45 million passengers and 12,000 tonnes of cargo a year.
But Mười also pointed out that inter-provincial roads in the region are poorly connected and provincial roads are too narrow.
Many highways connecting local provinces and cities with commercial and logistics centres in HCM City are under construction, he said.
“The Mekong Delta lacks a special policy for development and human resources. But the poorly connected transport infrastructure is the most critical issue.”
Experts said the region has great potential for development, especially of agricultural and seafood exports, but faces difficulties due to the poorly connected transport system, which results in high transport costs.
The region also lacks a deep-water port to ship exports, and so all the goods must be taken to ports in HCM City and Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province, increasing costs.
Mekong Delta provinces wanted the Government and transport ministry to speed up work on major roads in the region such as the East-West and North - South expressways.
Trần Trí Quang, vice chairman of the Đồng Tháp Province People’s Committee, said priority should be given to improving connectivity within the region.
Trần Anh Thư, vice chairman of the An Giang People’s Committee, recommended the use of BOT and PPP models to invest in transport infrastructure to reduce pressure on public resources.
Thể said his ministry has proposed a number of policies to the Government to mobilise investment for the region.
He urged provinces and agencies to speed up the construction of highways and develop a comprehensive water transport system.
According to a report by the ministry, public spending in the region in 2003-20 has been around VNĐ109.24 trillion, higher than the national average (VNĐ87.87 trillion).
The delta is home to nearly 20 million people and an agro hub of the country. — VNS