HCM City to expand waterway transport

The HCM City Department of Transport has approved a plan by the Thuong Nhat Company to develop waterway boat routes within the city.
The HCM City Department of Transport has approved a plan by the Thuong Nhat Company to develop waterway boat routes within the city.

Under the plan, the company will develop two passenger routes during the initial phase, and buy boats and build passenger stations.

The first route, which will have a length of 25km, will include An Loc, An Hoa-Binh Loi, Thanh Da-SaiGon River , Te Canal-Ong Lon Channel-Dia Channel, Roi Channel-Phu Xuan River .

The route will be divided into three sections, with each section having six boat terminals to receive passengers.

The second route, from Ben Nghe Canal to Tau Hu Canal, will have a total length of 12 km and six terminals.

Director Nguyen Kim Toan said his company wanted to invest in waterway routes because the city had potential to develop six terminals.

Such routes would be considered a sustainable solution to ease traffic congestion on city roads, Toan said.

However, experts said the current situation of rivers and canals, which are silted-up in several sections, and the low navigation elearance of several bridges across rivers and canals would be obstacles to setting up routes.

Tran The Ky, the department’s deputy director, said to facilitate conditions, the city should invest in building waterway stations and consider offering subsidies for waterway boat investors.

The current waterway routes that transport passengers and cargo to nearby provinces are overloaded.

Every year, the Doi canal and Te canal routes receive 100,000 waterway vehicles, transporting about 13 million tonnes of cargo to the Cuu Long ( Mekong ) Delta provinces.

However, the routes are filled with eight sandbars, which are threatening safe operation of waterway vehicles, according to River Management Station No 10.

Doi canal and Te canal routes have not been dredged for 20 years due to limited budged, said Station No 10, which manages the route.

The waterway route from the city to Cho Gao Canal in Tien Giang province, the only waterway linking the city with the delta region, is also overloaded and degraded.

The Cho Gao canal, which is 80m wide and 28.5km long, is congested with vessels and boats, with an estimated 1,500 of them passing through every day, up nearly 50 percent compared to three years ago, according to the River Management Station No 11, which manages inland waterways in Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Ben Tre and Tra Vinh provinces.

There were 170 traffics jams on the canal last year, up from 113 in 2008.

Nguyen Dinh Thi, deputy director of the River Management Station No 11,s said if the canal is not immediately dredged in the sections with the most silt build-up, traffic congestion will become worse.

The Ministry of Transport has approved a project to deepen and expand the canal to facilitate transport on it. The project will be implemented in 2011-14./.

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