Dredging Helps Ship Traffic in Yangtze River
The ongoing dredging work at the mouth of the river is credited with creating a reliable depth that allows more ships to navigate the river.
Figures from the Yangtze River Administration under China’s Ministry of Transport show that cargo throughput of the major ports along the Yangtze trunkline stood at 918 million tons, up 16.6 per cent from the previous year. Foreign trade-related cargo rose by 21 per cent to 116 million tons, accounting for 12.5 per cent of the total.
Of the 5.54 million teu’s that the Yangtze ports recorded in 2007, 44.5 per cent was related to domestic trade and 55.5 per cent to foreign trade. This shows that shippers continue to use the Yangtze to reach both international markets and the booming consumer market along China’s coast. Increasing proportions of finished goods and high-value cargo are now containerized, adding momentum to the growth in container traffic along the world’s largest cargo-carrying river. This year, the Yangtze ports are expecting a 36 per cent increase in volumes to 7.5 million teu’s.
In 2007, Taicang and Nanjing became the first two Yangtze ports to break the one million teu-a-year throughput mark. About 41 per cent of container throughput in Taicang is for domestic trade; Nanjing handled 156,000 domestic boxes. Wuhan recorded 82,000 teu’s for domestic trade, making up 21 per cent of the port’s total container volume, while Chongqing’s domestic trade-related container traffic of 160,000 teu accounted for 37 per cent of its total.
The ongoing dredging program at the mouth of the Yangtze has also contributed to the surge in overall container volumes, the report says. The program has provided an all-year-round water depth of 10.5 meters up to Nanjing and is set to increase to 12.5 meters by 2010, allowing larger vessels to enter this section of the Yangtze. For every extra meter in depth, a vessel can load an additional 1,000 teu’s or 10,000 tons, significantly reducing average shipping costs.
Traffic is heavily concentrated in the lower reaches where the shipping conditions are better, the local economies are more dynamic and access to the sea is easier. Throughput in the Jiangsu ports from Taicang to Nanjing totalled 603.9 million tons in 2007, accounting for 66 per cent of the Yangtze’s total. Foreign trade made up 103.6 million tons of this amount, representing 91 per cent of the Yangtze total. Container throughput in all the Jiangsu ports reached 4.2 million teu’s, or 76 per cent of the total.
According to official forecasts, the Yangtze is expected to handle 135 million tons of foreign trade cargo in 2008, up 18.4 per cent on the previous year. Growth in imports, particularly of metal ores, iron and steel, and chemical raw materials, is expected to outstrip that of exports.
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