A VND3.1 trillion (US$196.75 million) project to dredge a new route from the sea to the Bassac (Hau) River in southern Viet Nam’s Mekong River Delta is to start next year and expected to facilitate exports and reduce traffic loads in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport has just ratified the plan to build a canal 85-150m wide and 6.5-9.5m deep from a seaport in Bien Dong (East Sea, the one bordering Viet Nam) running for 9 km through land to link with the Mekong Delta’s Quan Chanh Bo Canal.
Via this latter channel, large vessels can easily reach the Bassac River, hence access to abundant goods in the Delta, considered the nation’s biggest granary and seafood exporter where nearly 20 million tons of goods are exported annually.
To avoid alluvium building up and blocking the new route, this project envisages two embankments 1.5-2.5km long, 60m wide and 8m high to hold back sand besides a ferry landing and a turning bridge to further facilitate transports.
The project is expected to enable ships of up to 20,000 tons in capacity to easily and directly enter the Delta from the East Sea.
Now only ships of 3,000-5,000 tons are able to do so since the deepest seaport in this region is just 7m deep on high tide.
Larger vessels have to make detours through ports in Ho Chi Minh City, which incurs around US$200 in transport and storage costs for each export-bound container and $8 for each ton of rice.
The project, approved back in 2005 by the then Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet, would also help reduce waterway traffic load in Ho Chi Minh City.