Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked relevant ministries and agencies to consider building a deepwater port in the Mekong Delta to help ease transport barriers for goods from the country's most productive region in terms of agriculture and aquaculture.
Currently there is no such port for the region.
One of the ideal locations for the sea port is in Hon Khoai Island in the southernmost province of Ca Mau, the government portal cited Hue as saying on Monday at a conference to discuss ways to develop the Mekong Delta’s transport and logistics infrastructure.
In fact, in July 2015, the central government agreed in principal to allow the construction of a deepwater port in Hon Khoai with estimated investment capital of $2.5 billion, but there has been no sign of the project taking off.
Hon Khoai is situated about 12 nautical miles from international waters, 15km from the southernmost point of Vietnam's inland territory and 14km from the Ho Chi Minh Highway. A port there could handle vessels of 250,000 DWT. The Ho Chi Minh Highway connects Vietnam’s north and south, according to the government statement.
A report from Can Tho University showed that rice production from the delta accounts for more than half of Vietnam’s output and contributes 80 percent to the country’s rice exports. The region is also home to around 80 percent of Vietnam’s fruit output and 60 percent of its fish catch.
Due to limited port capacity, 80 percent of goods for export from the Mekong Delta are shipped via deepwater ports in Ho Chi Minh City or its neighboring Ba Ria- Vung Tau Province, which means 90 percent are moved by road.
Sea and river ports in the delta are scattered and not connected with logistics centers, making it difficult for companies to buy and transport large quantities of goods.
Of the total, VND28 trillion will come from the state budget while the remainder will be sourced from official development assistance and the private sector.According to a report the Ministry of Transport filed at the meeting, Vietnam will invest VND91 trillion ($4.03 billion) to develop transport and logistics projects in the Mekong Delta from 2016-2020.
There will be 22 projects to support sea transport, costing VND18 trillion, and 14 projects for inland waterways, with investment of VND11 trillion. The majority of new transport projects, however, will be roads.
About 22 million people, or 24 percent of Vietnam's population of over 90 million, live in the Mekong Delta. The negative effects from the El Nino phenomenon and upstream dams, however, have brought about the worst drought and saltwater intrusion in the region for nearly 100 years.