Authorities in Kien Giang province are reluctant to take over Phu Quoc island's An Thoi International Seaport even though the Vietnam Maritime Administration is planning to hand it over.

The Mekong Delta province fears that it will not have the budget to maintain the port, which is seriously underused.

Pham Vu Hong, deputy chairman of the province's People's Committee, was quoted in Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that the seaport was bringing in very little revenue.

Under the government's zoning plan to develop Phu Quoc island by 2030, the An Thoi Port, worth roughly 158 billion VND, will have the capacity to handle 500,000 – 700,000 tonnes and 360,000 passengers every year.

According to Nguyen Dinh Viet, director of Kien Giang Port Authority, few international cargo or passenger vessels have arrived at the port, besides those that carried asphalt and barges used for the construction of Phu Quoc International Airport.

Viet said major construction projects were being built in the central and northern parts of the island, while the port is located in the southern area of the island.
Recently, the port received a barge and three foreign vessels to support the installation of the Ha Tien - Phu Quoc undersea power cable line.

The port's total revenue came from 39 turns of vessels, 19 turns of barges and three tug boats, or roughly 583 million VND, Viet told the paper.

"Currently, the port has areas for 3,000DWT that is now accommodating only fishing boats and small cargo boats of local residents," he said.

The biggest hurdle for the port's effective operation is the inefficiency of an approach road that links the port with the North - South road on the island. In order to reach the port, only vans can travel through a market.

Heavy trucks cannot access the port, according to Lam Minh Thanh, chairman of Phu Quoc district's People's Committee.

He said the An Thoi Port was placed in an inappropriate location near a military port and traditional fishing ports of local residents.

Without a well-built approach road, the port would not operate effectively, Thanh said.

It is estimated that at least 1 trillion VND would be needed for land clearance compensation if the local government wants to build the road linking the island's North - South road to the port.

The local government said it could not afford to pay compensation to displaced residents.

Pham Vu Hong, deputy chairman of Kien Giang province's People's Committee, suggested that the Vietnam Maritime Administration complete infrastructure linking the port before handing it over to the local government.

Local authorities are discussing the matter before making a final decision.

Under the government's plan, Phu Quoc will be an administrative unit at the same level as a city directly under control of the central government, with 10 wards and communes.

Besides the An Thoi International Port, Kien Giang is calling for investment in at least four other ports, including the 675-ha Nam Du Deepwater Port with 16.8 trillion VND (840 million USD) on Nam Du islet, Bai Dat Do Port worth 10.5 trillion VND, the 1.1 trillion VND (55 million USD) Hon Chong Port, and Bai No Port.-VNA