Unlicensed river ports remain very common in the southern province of Dong Nai despite the fact that local authorities had previously announced plans to crack down, even eliminate all of them, by 2010.
|Unlicensed river ports remain very common in the southern province of Dong Nai despite the fact that local authorities had previously announced plans to crack down, even eliminate all of them, by 2010. — Photo baodautu.vn|
According to a report from the province People's Committee, of 96 ports still in operation, only a third are legal.
More than half the unlicensed ports, 35, are in the vicinity of Bien Hoa City.
They are mostly used to transport construction materials, with sand and stone brought to them by barge and lifted into trucks by crane.
Dau Tu (Viet Nam Investment Review) newspaper quoted a Department of Transport spokesperson as saying: "We have raided many of these ports. But by the time we check one, all others close down. Many even have barges docking at night, meaning we cannot catch them.
"Since 2010 the department has not granted permission for any port and we stepped up raids."
In early 2015 deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee, Tran Van Vinh, ordered the department and related authorities to resolve the problem by September that year.
He claimed, however, that tackling the problem was very difficult since, unlike on roads, no-parking signs could not be put up easily in waterways.
Thus, when authorities discover a barge moored at a spot but there is no signboard prohibiting it, they cannot slap a penalty, he said.
Signboards should be put up at existing unlicensed ports, which would allow them to impose heavy fines for barges moored without permission, he said.
"Local authorities should review and issue licences for a limited number of ports to help the construction materials business."
Shipping container owners who don't maintain their containers regularly or use unsafe containers will be fined from VND5 million (US$225) to VND10 million ($450) according to a draft decree from the transport ministry.
As well as fines, the containers can be suspended from use for between two and six months for maintenance.
The draft also states that ship owners will be fined up to VND10 million ($450) if they don't have their ships examined and registered regularly or they fail to show valid relevant documents.
Violations like trading, renting or borrowing ship-related documents would face fines from VND20 million ($900) to VND30 million ($1,350).
Deputy head of the ministry's Maritime Administration Bui Thien Thu said that Viet Nam joined the international Convention for Safe Containers in 2014, aiming to better control container activities at seaports as well as container production and inspection.
However, one year after implementing the convention, Viet Nam found difficulties as the country did not have regulations on fines and mechanisms to oversee container maintenance.
He said that the quantity of container shipment via seaports in Viet Nam was huge, up to 10.2 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) each year while few staff were assigned to examine container safety.
Viet Nam expects to ship 13.3 TEU in 2016, a year-on-year increase of 11 per cent. By 2020, it expects more than 220 million tonnes of goods or 19.5 million TEU.