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Vung Tau seaports receive few vessels despite huge investments

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 | 00:00
Despite a number of modern container seaports with investments worth several billions of US dollars established in its waters, the Cai Mep – Thi Vai area in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province has docked a modest number of container vessels.
This grim reality runs counter to the investors’ high expectations of developing Ba Ria – Vung Tau into an urban port with high container-loading capacity.
Ports have been built in large quantities, but the infrastructure serving their operations remains undeveloped, experts said.
According to the Vietnam Port Association (VPA), the total container-handling capacity of the ports in Ba Ria – Vung Tau is as much as 8 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), while the real demand is no more than 5 million TEU.
In spite of the surplus capacity, the province is set to welcome several new ports in 2012, and 2013, VPA said.
According to the provincial Department of Transport, Ba Ria – Vung Tau is now home to 53 seaports, 23 of which are already operational, while those remaining will soon reach completion.
The department also said the total registered investment in the seaport system in the province by the end of last year was more than US$7 billion, while disbursement was worth $2 billion.
Few vessels come to the ports
In contrast to the high density of deep-water seaports in the area, and the busy atmosphere at the construction sites of the new ports, a gloomy air can be found at the ports most of the time.
On the road leading to the two major deep-water ports, Tan Cang – Cai Mep and CMIT, there are hardly any container trucks loading cargo in and out the ports. There are no vessels loading or unloading goods at the ports’ cranes, either.
While the container ports in Ho Chi Minh City are always packed with cargo ships and piles of containers, those in Cai Mep – Thi Vai only have several containers scattered around.
The container loading machines in the ports have also constantly been left unused, with ships coming to the ports for loading only two or three days a week, a man working for a deep-water port in Cai Mep – Thi Vai said.
The director of a container seaport said the fact that ports do not have many containers to handle not only reduced the ports’ attractiveness to shipping companies, but also forced them to cut fees to appeal to vessels, which would understandably result in losses.
Inadequate logistics development
Industry insiders said another reason for the unattractiveness of the ports is that the traffic system and logistics services supporting the ports have been underdeveloped.
National route No 51, the main road connecting the Cai Mep – Thi Vai area with the main traffic system, has deteriorated, with its surface full of cracks and potholes.
Meanwhile, route no 956 connecting national route 51 and other major seaports has yet to be completed. Even worse, the project to build roads linking the ports is still no more than a blueprint.
“This is because we have failed to finish the site clearance and compensation tasks due to a capital shortage,” Luong Anh Tuan, deputy director of the provincial Department of Transport, explained.
Since the road traffic infrastructure is incomplete, ship owners now have to use barges to transport their containers to the ports, according to VPA.
“This means of transportation is ineffective as it increases the transporting fee for the container owners,” said VPA general secretary Ho Kim Lan.
“Ba Ria – Vung Tau has only completed construction on the seaports, but totally neglected the completion of road traffic and logistics services.”
Source: Tuoi Tre
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