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Mekong gets 24-hour navigation system

Mekong gets 24-hour navigation system

mekong.jpg
mekong.jpg

In an onboard ceremony held in the Mekong near Phnom Penh Port, government ministers,

foreign ambassadors, and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) launched first-ever 24-hour

navigational buoy to be placed on Cambodia waterways.

Workers put the finishing touches on the first ever 24-hour navigation bouy. The internationally recognized system will transform the shipping industry, said Minister of Public Works and Tranportation Sun Chanthol.

"This is the first buoy in a series of 56, plus 12 leading markers over a 100-km

stretch of the river," said Belgian Ambassador Jan Matthysen, at the April 5

launch. "It will improve safety and efficiency of navigation, so that sea-going

vessels and inland barges can proceed in a safe way, 24 hours a day."

Over the next six months, the rest of the navigational system will be installed over

the busiest 100 km stretch of the Mekong in Cambodia. The buoys will mark a safe

channel from Phnom Penh to the Cambodia-Vietnam border.

Installing this internationally recognized system of aids to navigation will transform

the shipping industry in Cambodia and be of great economic benefit to the country,

said , Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol.

"The project will double the sailing window by allowing vessels to navigate

at night," he said. "It will make river transportation to and from Cambodia

much more cost effective and efficient."

Cambodia's potential for exports has grown dramatically over the last few years but

the Kingdom has been hamstrung by the expense of shipping good by road, said Chanthol.

"It is essential that we improve the quality of our waterborne transport,"

he said. "If we can use our river in a more efficient and economic way we can

realize our export potential and this will, in turn, help Cambodia achieve its poverty

alleviation goals."

Currently, many international shippers would like to increase the volume of traffic

to Phnom Penh, but Cambodia's unmarked shoals and sandbars have deterred them.

"This will soon be in the past as the channel markings will make the Mekong

a more reliable waterway and, as such, a more attractive option for regional and

international traders, freight forwarders, investors, and shipping agencies,"

said Chanthol. "It will help take Cambodia on a path to increased prosperity

and open our ports to the world."

Oliver Cogels, CEO of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said the new navigation scheme

would help promote economic development in all of the countries in the Mekong River

area.

"This exciting initiative will assist in supporting the overall development

of navigation on the Mekong," he said. "Inland navigation is a very competitive

mode of transport for carriage of bulk materials and bulk liquids over long distances,

provided there is a proper network of ports and supply-demand centers, and these

conditions are met."

In addition to economic benefits, the safety of people who navigate, and live close

to, the Mekong river will be improved by the navigation system, said Tram Iv Tek,

secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

"A lack of aids to navigation is the main cause of various accidents from collisions,

ships running aground, and risks for pollution, threatening the ecosystem of the

river," he said. "Many riparians depend largely on the resources of the

Mekong for their livelihoods. A pollution accident could be a serious threat to those

people who often do not have alternatives for income generation."

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