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Building water links to Vietnam


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Authorities are planning upgrades to effectively double the capacity of boats travelling from Phnom Penh Autonomous Port to Vietnam, according to port Director General Hei Bavy.

A 2009 agreement with Vietnam authorities allows ships travelling down the Mekong from Cambodia to off-load at Cai Mep deepwater port near Ho Chi Minh City, and re-load onto larger vessels to make the trip overseas. Although the agreement has led to a large increase in shipments from Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP), experts say more could be done to improve the link.

PPAP Director General Hei Bavy said making the connecting waterway deeper would allow for larger, more efficient boats to make the journey to Cai Mep.

“In Vietnam, they plan to rehabilitate navigation accessibilities [along the river] by 2013, which will expand the capacity from 10,000 tonnes to over 20,000 tonnes.”

Expansions at PPAP are pending and are slated for completion in 2015, said Hei Bavy.

“Once the dredging is completed we can then make the port 7.5 metres deep, allowing us to capacitate larger vessels.”

He added that although the rail link to Sihanoukville port will improve efficiency and heighten competition between the ports, PPAP’s geographical situation means it is a faster and cheaper option for traders and consumers.

A total of 35,149 twenty- foot equivalent units passed through the Phnom Penh port in the first half of 2011, a 31 percent increase on the 26,790 during the same period last year, PPAP Deputy Director General Eang Veng Sun told The Post last month.

One method that could improve the link for agriculture exporters was a method to provide for tracking goods between Phnom Penh and Cai Mep, Agricultural Development International Country Manager Tim Purcell said previously.

“They want to export it from Vietnam even though there’s no enabling legislation for that, and there is no tracking, so the second it leaves Phnom Penh Port, it disappears,” he said.

Such an agreement would assist European buyers to track containers, and particularly rice buyers from other countries using methods of shipping rice other than containers, he said.

Phnom Penh-based officials at global shipper Mitsui OSK Line, which operates a terminal at Cai Mep, said a tracking system had been discussed, but not yet implemented.

“It would be beneficial and provide customers with more information, however, we don’t have major issues with customers losing cargo,” said Country Manager Hin Theany.

“In terms of tracking, we are only offered a departure and arrival time, but we do have direct communication with the vessel, if a customer requires further information.” Hei Bavy said that shippers were not overly concerned with the lack of a tracking system, as exports from Phnom Penh are all containerised and customs sealed. ADDITIONAL REPORTING JEREMY MULLINS

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