Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Waterway transport has been affected in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta since many rivers and canals have not been regularly dredged and suffer from illegal encroachment.
The 90km Vĩnh Tế Canal, which links the Hậu River in An Giang Province with the Hà Giang River in Kiên Giang, has been narrowed because of illegal encroachment and silt buildup, especially in Kiên Giang’s Giang Thành District.
In Cống Cả Hamlet in the district’s Vĩnh Điều Commune, some newly built houses have encroached on the canal, according to Người Lao Động (the Labourer) newspaper.
Many households have built docks for their boats, constricting the canal.
Besides, silt that has built up has not been dredged for years.
Nguyễn Thanh Hà, chairman of the district People’s Committee, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should spend money to desilt the canal and remove encroachments.
“We have petitioned the province People’s Committee to ask the Government to allocate funds to dredge the canal since it is too shallow.”
The Vĩnh Tế Canal supplies water from the Hậu River to the Long Xuyên Quadrangle in An Giang and Kiên Giang provinces and Cần Thơ city.
In the Tiền and Hậu rivers, two tributaries of the Mekong, there are more than 40 places where farmers breed fish in cages, according to the An Giang Province Traffic Safety Committee.
More than 10 of them encroach on river passages and cause silt build-up.
In Hậu Giang Province, many canals in Vị Thuỷ, Long Mỹ and Phụng Hiệp districts have not been dredged regularly and contain dense growth of water hyacinth, which block water flows.
Nearly 20,000 houses and other constructions encroach on transport safety corridors in most rivers and canals in An Giang, Kiên Giang and Cần Thơ, according to the Inland WaterWay Management No. 13.
Some construction works project 12-15 meters into rivers and canals.
The delta has 26 small and large ports but the shallow passages are a problem for most, according to the Việt Nam Maritime Administration.
The Tiểu estuary in the Tiền River, the Định An and Trần Đề estuaries in the Hậu River and several others can be used only during high tides and only by vessels measuring 1,000 – 5,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT).
Despite the problems with silt, however, the high density of boats cause a traffic overload in the delta’s major canals.
On the Chợ Lách Canal – Mang Thít River route, for instance, boats transporting goods in bulk and sand often cause traffic jams while waiting for the high tide to sail.
But due to the silt, boats run aground often, according to an official from the Ministry of Transport’s Transport Development and Strategy Institute.
The volume of goods transported through the delta’s ports is low at 6.5 – 8.5 million tonnes a year.
Two years ago 9.4 million tonnes were transported, accounting for 20-25 per cent of the total volume of goods dispatched from the region by water.
Most river and canal passages in the delta can only accommodate vessels of up to 20,000DWT, according to the Ministry of Transport.
But studies are planned to identify places where ports can be built to accommodate ships of up to 100,000DWT.
Some possible spots are the Hậu rivermouth in Trà Vinh Province, Trần Đề rivermouth in Sóc Trăng Province and Gành Hào rivermouth in Bạc Liêu Province besides the Hòn Khoai Islands in Cà Mau Province and Nam Du Island in Kiên Giang. —VNS