Vietnam's Ministry of Transport yesterday opened the Cai Mep Thi Vai International Port in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau, the country's deepest and biggest seaport, which is designed to meet the increasing demand of container shipping in the south, reported The Nation.
The US$624.4 million project will also open direct shipping channels with other domestic and international ports worldwide, cutting the intermediate and transit shipping costs.
"The project will also help increase the social economic development of Ba Ria Vung Tau in particular and the southern region in general while saving other ports in the south from overload burdens," said Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.
Hai said the port, which marks 40 years of relationship between Vietnam and Japan, will also act as a shipping hub connecting countries in the Mekong region.
He told the port's management board to fully ultilise the ports and operate them safely.
According to Transport Vice Minister Nguyen Van Cong, with direct channels and access roads, the port will play an important role in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the region as well as international maritime "forwarders from the US, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong".
Cong said the project has built an international gateway, which is capable of exporting Vietnamese goods directly to European and North American ports without the need to stop at international transit terminals in the region.
"This will enhance the competitiveness of Vietnam exports while consolidating the position of Vietnam in world maritime transport," Cong added.
The project, managed by the Ministry of Transport's Project Management Unit 85 (PMU85), consists of seven contract packages including four civil works packages, two equipment procurement packages and one supervision consulting service package.
Meanwhile, the three most important packages of the project are the Cai Mep Container Port, the Thi Vai general goods port, and bridges and roads connecting National Highway 51 to the two ports.
The container port package includes two berths with a total length of 600m, which can accommodate 130,000-DWT vessels, and other facilities which will provide navigational capacity of 700,000 TEUs per year.
Meanwhile, the general cargo port has two berths which can serve 50,000-tonne vessels.
It also has other facilities that have a loading and unloading capacity of 1.6 million-2 million tonnes per year.
The bridges and roads package includes an 8.5km road section and four lanes that allow vehicles to run at a maximum speed of 80 km per hour.
Approved by the government in 2004, the project was completed with the participation of a number of Japan contractors including Toa-Toyo, Penta-Rinkai, Penta-Toyo and IHI-MES and two domestic contractors including Cienco6-Truong Son and Maritime Safety Corporation. In addition, Japanese JPC-Nippon Koei was the major supervisor of the project.
According to the Vietnam Port Association, Vietnam has 30 ports with 166 harbours and 350 wharfs. Of these, only some that were rendered operational after 2006 are equipped with state-of-the-art loading and unloading facilities. This shortage has reduced loading capacity in Vietnam to only 50 per cent compared to advanced ports in other countries in the Asian region.
The Vietnamese logistics industry has attracted a number of foreign investors and there are currently close to 1,000 companies that have been established in the country.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese companies are only able to supply simple logistic services. About 70 per cent of the market share is captured by foreign companies, hence logistic services contribute little to the country's GDP.
The association says that Vietnamese logistic services have not yet fulfilled their potential. More than 90 per cent of imported and exported commodities are transported via the sea and it is predicted that around 600 million tonnes of goods will be transported this way by 2015 and around 1,100 million tonnes by 2020.
Total container-handling capacity is estimated to be as much as 15.2 million TEUs by 2015, and 29.2 million TEUs by 2020.