Can Tho port, located in the heart of the Mekong Delta, is in need of significant investments in infrastructure, a network of international-standard warehouses and logistics services that connect it to other ports in the region.

Located within a 200km-radius of all the Mekong Delta localities, the port is ideally suited for cargo transported by land or waterway. It is also strategically linked with container ports in Ho Chi Minh City, the southern province of Ba Ria–Vung Tau and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, which are also within a 300km distance.

However, the port can currently only process 5,000DWT vessels and the volume of cargo reached a meagre 1.5 million tonnes last year, partly due to poor road infrastructure, making it harder for cargo to access the port, especially from industrial zones and manufacturing areas.

Inter-provincial roads between Can Tho and Kien Giang, An Giang, and Soc Trang are narrow with only two lanes, which are seriously hindering transportation to Can Tho port.

Currently, most exporters take their products to the ports in Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau via road or river barges, pushing up transport fees and putting pressure on the National Highway 1A and inland waterways via the Cho Gao canal in Tien Giang province.

Inland waterways are quite promising in the Mekong Delta, but regional localities must fine-tune their policies and offer support for the firms involved, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang told lawmakers in a question-and-answer session in Hanoi on November 18.

The ministry will accelerate dredging in Dinh An estuary and launch a transport route via Quan Chanh Bo canal in order to tap into the advantages of Can Tho port, which comprises of Hoang Dieu and Cai Cui ports, he said.

From 2014-2015, priority will be given to developing modern container unloading and shipping services in Cai Cui port, making it easier to connect to Phnom Penh port and Cai Mep port in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, a representative from Can Tho port company said.

Nguyen Phong Quang, standing deputy head of the Steering Committee for the South-Western Region, suggested the ministry review a master plan on inland waterways in the Mekong Delta.-VNA