Experts disagree with VIMC's VND20 trillion port proposal in HCM City

Monday, Oct 11, 2021 18:11

A view of Cat Lai Port in HCM City where VIMC plans a new VND20 trillion container terminal in Can Gio District. — VNA/VNS Photo Tien Luc

Viet Nam Maritime Corporation (VIMC) wants to build a VND20 trillion (more than US$869 million) container terminal in Can Gio District in HCM City, but experts have raised concerns over the proposal.

State-owned VIMC has sent a document to the Ministry of Transport (MoT) proposing the investment policy for the terminal, saying Hiep Phuoc and Tan Thuan ports, exploited by the Sai Gon Port Joint Stock Company with more than 65 per cent of VIMC’s equity, were not able to meet demand.

According to VIMC, Hiep Phuoc port was built to serve the relocation of Nha Rong- Khanh Hoi port. However, the port project was not yet capable of receiving the entire volume of ships and displaced goods because the depth of the main channels in the port area was not stable, affecting the exploitation ability.

Tan Thuan port, which was in charge of loading and unloading goods such as iron and steel, fertiliser, rice, and containers with a throughput of about 10 million tonnes, was to be relocated to implement urban development plans for Thu Thiem No. 4 bridge project, it said.

Based on the master plan for the local seaport system in the 2021-2030 period, VIMC aims to develop a terminal port in Can Gio district.

It said the scope of the new port area included the land and water area to the left of the Sai Gon - Vung Tau channel, the Binh Chanh area, the Nga Bay estuary, the Cai Mep River and the Go Gia Island area. The scale included container, bulk cargo and international passenger terminals which could receive vessels with a tonnage of up to 150,000 DWT or larger, as well as passenger ships of 225,000 gross tonnage.

VIMC proposed the MoT to consider, support and approve the policy of allowing Sai Gon Port to deploy an investment project in a container terminal in the Can Gio district.

The project will take place in two locations including the first adjacent to Cai Mep-Thi Vai Channel, in the territory of Phu Loi Island, and the second adjacent to Sai Gon-Vung Tau Channel, in Long Hoa Commune.

According to VIMC’s calculations, the wharf to be built at two locations will have a length of 1,500m. The first is expected to receive ships of up to 200,000 DWT and the second will receive ships of up to 150,000 DWT.

While the proposal of VIMC was waiting for a response, most experts on wharf and urban planning expressed disagreement with the project.

As an urban planning expert, architect Ngo Viet Son said: “Port construction must be in a regional connection while at present, most ports in urban areas of HCM City, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Long An have very poor transport infrastructure, pushing up commodity prices, increasing traffic jams and the risk of traffic accidents due to a lack of infrastructure.”

Therefore, he said old ports need to be upgraded rather than scattered investment placed in other new ports.

Son thought VIMC’s proposal lacks an urban vision as it did not consider the port in relation to the surroundings and had no environmental assessment that will greatly harm the biosphere reserve of the district.

The architect said the city needs a proposal for the container port ecosystem to function well with a comprehensive vision in relation to regional connectivity.

Son said to develop the marine economy, the city should have a regional cooperation mindset between the neighbouring port clusters, which should be also connected with the railway and highway inland to promote the role of the ports.

Agreeing with Son, Vu Kim Cuong, former deputy chief architect of the city said: “The city should exploit the full capacity of the available ports,” adding “Can Gio is a biosphere reserve that can develop ecological urban areas, the city should not let huge transport pass through it."

He suggested: “If a city wants to develop towards the sea, it can develop something to the east through Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.”

He added that as the available ports in the city were not operating at full capacity, the city should exploit the potential of hundreds of millions of tonnes per year before considering building a new port.

Regarding VIMC's proposal, MoT’s leaders told local media such a proposal of a container terminal in Can Gio was not suitable for the ministry to process, adding they will instruct VIMC to send the proposal to the People's Committee of HCM City and the Prime Minister for approval of the investment policy. — VNS

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