Outlining a bright future for Vietnam’s fast-growing container trade, Gregory cautioned that landside infrastructure must not be overlooked as a factor for container terminal productivity and capacity.
“A number of critical projects are either underway or planned and these are essential if we are to maximise the capacity of the new deep water terminals to handle main line mother vessels,” he noted.
The emergence of Vietnam as a major manufacturing centre has led to a significant increase in container volumes, which grew by 2% in 2009 at a time when world-wide container throughput declined by over 10%.
Investment in new modern container facilities will enable Vietnam to take full advantage of trade as an engine of economic development. The 1.1m teu capacity CMIT, now under construction is one of five new deep water terminals in the Thi Vai – Cai Mep port complex that are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2011.
The existing Ho Chi Minh City terminals handled over 90% of southern Vietnam’s 3.6m teu overall container traffic in 2009. This has been projected to grow to 4.8m teu by 2012.
The Thi-Vai – Cai Mep terminals, which are closer to the sea lanes and have navigation channels of between 12 metres and 14 m, will be able to accommodate the larger vessels that are already beginning direct calls to Vietnam.
At present much of Vietnam’s containerised cargo moves by barge to and from inland, pending completion of road and bridge construction and improvement projects. It is this landside infrastructure that Gregory says needs to be improved for the terminals to operate at their planned capacities.
He believes that to support just four main line vessel calls per week as many as 55 barge calls may be required, but also claims that every container lifted on or off a barge reduces the capacity of the terminal to handle main line vessels by the exact same amount. He puts the main line capacity reduction of the terminal at around 50%.
“Quickly upgrading landside infrastructure to support Thi Vai – Cai Mep is an essential prerequisite to achieving the full potential of these new ports,” said Gregory.
CMIT is a joint venture between APM Terminals, Vinalines and Saigon Port.