Making a case for river transport
A view at Hong (Red) River Port in Ha Noi City. A conference yesterday highlights the role of inland waterways in the delta in helping create a balance among different modes of transport. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung
The Minister of Transport, Dinh La Thang, said yesterday he would ask the Government for policies to attract investment to inland waterway facilities.
Thang told a conference on boosting water transport throughout the Hong (Red) River Delta that it was necessary for agencies and localities to recognise the role of inland waterways in helping create a balance among different modes of transport.
He said river haulage generally cost less than road or rail transport and could carry super-long and super-heavy loads.
In the delta region, water transport had huge potential because it involved 10 out of the 18 main river routes in Viet Nam and had a total length of 1,550km of rivers and canals.
The region is also home to economic hubs such as Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh which have high demand for coal and building materials.
River transport carries about 25 per cent of total goods transported in the region.
Minister Thang said that to take full advantage of river transport, he would give priority to projects to open new routes and canals linking up with road and marine transport.
A representative from the Waterway Transport Company (VIVASO) said that little money had been spent on river transport or adjusting and dredging rivers and canals.
Some routes faded in the dry season because of low river levels. In some cases, the space between the river and bridges was too low for boats to pass.
He said investment could bring great economic benefits. For example, to carry one tonne of goods by road from Ha Noi to Viet Tri cost VND4,000, only VND500 by river.
He added that the link between rail and rivers also needed adjusting because both systems offered cheap transport.
"However, logistic costs or costs to load or unload goods and carry goods from trains to boats and vice versa are too high," he said.
Pham Minh Nghia, chairman of the Viet Nam Inland Waterway Transportation Association, said that now was the time to improve public awareness about inland waterway transport as cheap, fast and safe.
In Belgium, England and the Netherlands, waterways were first choice for transporting extra-long or heavy goods.
In Viet Nam, inland ports and ferries were small scale and scattered, he said, emphasising that it was crucial to develop proper facilities with customs areas, storage and road links.
He noted that waterway tourism had developed well in the south, but not in the Red River Delta.
Deputy director of the Directorate for Roads, Nguyen Van Quyen, said that about 70 per cent of goods and 90 per cent of passengers were transported by road, creating an imbalance among transportation modes.
To reduce overloading on roads and cut costs, harmonious development of different transport modes was needed.
He suggested setting up a trading floor for the transport sector where transport firms, logistic firms and goods owners could operate.
The floor could help create healthy competition and reduce costs - including bribery. — VNS
Transport solutions vital to national development
Minister of Transport Ho Nghia Dung spoke to Lao dong (Labour) newspaper about the need to overhaul the national transport system.
Many people have complained about the heavy traffic on Highway 1. In your opinion, what is the main cause of the problem and what are the solutions?
Many people have expressed their anxiety about the heavier and heavier traffic on the country’s already poor infrastructure system.
Although Highway 1 has been expanded into an eight-metre-wide asphalt road and some of its portions have been up-graded into a four-lane motorway, it still cannot meet the increasing demand of heavy traffic.
Portions running through Nam Dinh Province in the north, Ho Chi Minh City-Long An Province or Long An-Can Tho in the south are the worse cases.
In recent years, investment in rehabilitating Highway1 has been given top priority, yet it is still far below demand.
In my opinion, one of the causes is piecemeal localised investment while resources remain limited.
Is there any workable plan in the pipeline to solve the problem?
The Government has agreed to focus more budget resources and Government bonds to invest in road construction.
In addition, the Government will call on investors to take projects under BOT (build-operate and transfer), a common policy already used in urban areas.
I hope this investment model will help ease the traffic congestion in towns.
But there is always a problem between planning and implementation as the case of building bridges and approaching roads. They often don’t interlink correctly. What’re your ideas on this problem?
Generally speaking, in bridge and road construction projects the planning phases match. But in the implementation stage, the problems start to occur.
When building a bridge across a river, there is no problem with land clearance so the construction is often good. But for road construction, in order to have it started in the same schedule with the bridge, preparation must begin at least two years earlier due to land clearance problems.
Another reason is that budgets for the bridge and road construction have different sources. So whichever project has received its capital first can start.
Other important reason leading to delays is incompetence on the part of the contractor.
Do you think that the waterway transportation is underdeveloped?
The development of water-based transportation, both on rivers and the sea, will no doubt help alleviate heavy road traffic.
There is a master plan for the development of the sea ports and routes.
Under the master plan, our country will have six sea ports, one in the north and the other five in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Nai provinces. At present, it is reported that the sea transportation is seeing an average increase of 20 per cent annually.
How do you comment on Vinashin’s proposal to develop the ocean going fleet at a cost of VND14 trillion (US$757 million) while the Hoa Sen ship that the corporation bought some time ago at the cost of over VND1 trillion is now lying idle at the dock?
The proposal has not yet been approved. My understanding is that Vinashin bought the VND1 trillion ship with a dual purpose in mind: tourism and for car ferrying. The corporation has the right to decide how to run its business as the project is not within the project list that must seek authority from the Government.
But of course