Experts at odds on building major Da Nang port

By Nguyen Dong   November 8, 2019 | 07:00 pm PT
Experts at odds on building major Da Nang port
A cargo ship docks at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang. Photo by Shutterstock/Claudine Van Massenhove.
A Singaporean consultancy says it’s better to upgrade the Da Nang port than build a new one, but other experts disagree.

Experts discussed Friday a plan to build a new port in Da Nang because the current Tien Sa Port, 10 kilometers away from the city centre, is currently overloaded. The port functions as a gateway for both cargo and tourism purposes.

In September 2018, Da Nang authorities proposed to the government that a new facility, the 220-hectare Lien Chieu Port, be built at a cost of VND32.86 trillion ($1.41 billion).

The Politburo, the main decision-making body of the Communist Party of Vietnam, issued a resolution in January this year on building the Lien Chieu Port for logistics and expanding Tien Sa Port for tourism purposes. 

But, at Friday’s forum, Singaporean consultancy consortium Sakae Corporate Advisory-Surbana Jurong proposed that Tien Sa be upgraded without building a new port due to major environmental concerns.

Building the new Lien Chieu Port would require digging a 20-meter deep canal whose length will be 80-100 meters, it said.

Together with the existing 16-meter deep Tien Sa canal, the Da Nang Bay will be divided, and its ecosystem will be ruined when ships arrive in large numbers, it added.

Instead, the Tien Sa Port should be expanded for more cargo shipment, and a manmade island should be built to receive tourism ships, it said.

As the current roads to the Tien Sa Port are being used by both personal vehicles and container trucks, the consortium proposed building dedicated overpasses for cargo trucks.

However, other experts disagreed.

Ryoya Watanabe, an expert from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said that as the government has already greenlighted a plan to build Lien Chieu, any changes to this plan would take a long time for the government to review.

Tien Sa is now handling 8.6 million tonnes of cargo a year, and this figure is set to reach 12 million tonnes in 2023, underlining the need for a new port, he added.

Expanding the Tien Sa Port will involve national security issues, which could take a long time to clear, he added.

Nguyen Minh Quy, an expert from Japan Port Consultants, said that Da Nang eventually will have to build Lien Chieu Port if it wants to be the next Busan in South Korea or the next Hong Kong.

Nguyen Huu Sia, former director of at the Da Nang Port Jsc, said that as Tien Sa was built by the Americans in 1965, it has now become an old construction. The city cannot depend only on tourism, which contributes 10-15 percent of GDP, he said.

A new port will allow logistics development and earning money from it will be easier than from tourism.

The new port, which will be few times bigger than the existing 27-hectare Tien Sa, will help reduce traffic congestion, leading to faster delivery of goods, Sia said.

He also said that a new port will separate container trucks and passenger vehicles, addressing the issue of traffic accidents involving the two types of transport, which have been happening on the roads to Tien Sa.

Tien Sa Port received 8.6 million tonnes of cargo last year, up 7.2 percent year-on-year, and served 183,582 passengers, according to the port operator.

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