Southern ports need management revamp: official hinh anh 1Containers are loaded at the Cai Mep–Thi Vai Port in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) -
Concerted efforts are needed to improve the operational efficiency of the No 5 seaport system, particularly the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, to make it a regional entrepot in the future, a ministry official has said.

Speaking at a seminar on the Cai Mep–Thi Vai Port Project held on January 20 in HCM City, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Van Cong said the seaport system should no longer depend on regional ports like Singapore and Hong Kong when shipping Vietnamese commodities to overseas markets.

Although the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port system is operational, commodities are still being transported to older ports in downtown HCM City.

Cong said this continued because no department or oganisation was directly responsible for managing and operating the shipment process.

The original plan for the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port called for a reduction in use of seaports in downtown HCM City.

Because of delays, the ministry has said it would take over decisions regarding the establishment and expansion of ports nationwide.

In making its decision, it will take into account the actual need for seaports and the investment required, as well as land-use plans.

Cong said the ministry would also try to increase the volume of imported products coming through the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port, while limiting the number of foreign companies that can transport domestic goods to the port.

The ministry has, along with the Japan International Co-operation (JICA), proposed the revamping of the national seaport authority, giving it new responsibilities and functions.

One major change would be to give the authority an investment management function, based on real market demand as well as the operational capacities of seaports.

The authority would be allowed to collect import and export taxes due on cargo shipments, saving time for companies.

Ho Kim Lan, General Secretary of the Vietnam Seaports Association, said the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port, financed by Japanese ODA, was an outstanding case of success of international cooperation and would pave the way for further development of the port system in Vietnam.

Current problems could have been avoided or resolved if Vietnam had in place a proper Port Reform System and Regulations with full involvement and commitment of all stakeholders, Lan said.

JICA, which has acted as a consultant for the No 5 seaport system, has suggested that road connections between HCM City and Cai Mep–Thi Vai port should be improved and that all port construction in HCM City cease.

Attracting more industrial investment to Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, where the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port is located, should be another goal, it has said.

JICA has also proposed the prompt establishment of a port authority.

It has recommended that the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port work closely with cargo shipment companies, and take measures to cut costs and increase shipments.

To attract more goods to the nation's port system, the port authority should collaborate with other agencies on the construction of inter-port roads, logistics centres, and more wharves in Mekong Delta provinces, according to JICA.

Nguyen Xuan Tuan, of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, pointed out several challenges facing the operation of the Cai Mep–Thi Vai port, including a lack of integration between port and infrastructure development plans, no supporting legal framework, and lack of an integrated seaport service chain.

He also said that ineffective implementation had contributed to the problems facing the ports.

For example, the freight volume to Cai Mep–Thi Vai was still insignificant, especially for containers.

In addition, apart from access roads developed before 2013, no new accessibility projects have been added, Tuan said.

He said that an economic corridor, which would use Vung Tau as a base, should be developed over the long term.

The No 5 seaport system consists of 14 ports, including four in HCM City, five in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, and five in Dong Nai province.

It is one of eight port systems in the country.

The Cai Mep–Thi Vai area is surrounded by Tan Thanh district in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, Long Thanh and Phuoc An districts in Dong Nai province and Can Gio district in HCM City.

The port complex plays an important role in Vietnam's port system as outlined in a master zoning plan for seaport development until 2020, with a vision towards 2030, approved by the Prime Minister.-VNA