Guangdong looks to improve water links
South China's Guangdong Province plans to expand its inner-river transportation system to allow bigger cargo and passenger vessels up the Pearl River and deeper into the country's heartland.
According to an ambitious river transportation network development plan, 3,000-ton cargo vessels will be able to navigate up to Zhaoqing, a mountainous city in the western part of Guangdong, while 2,000-ton ships will be able to make it to Wuzhou, a city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Total investment for construction of the river transportation network will reach more than 5 billion yuan (US$605 million).
When the network is in place by 2010, more inland cities may be able to set up cargo and passenger water transport to Hong Kong and Macao, said Huang Xiangguang, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Administration of Inner Rivers.
Guangdong plans to reconstruct and expand 15 rivers and tributaries totalling 1,184 kilometres before 2010.
Currently river transportation represents only 10 per cent of Guangdong's total transportation volume, so developing transport routes could open up a new economic sector.
"The river transportation network will be able to compete with the province's advanced highway network in the years ahead, contributing to Guangdong's sustainable economic growth," said Huang.
Guangdong actually has rich water and river resources, said Huang. The Pearl River, China's second largest by volume, and its tributaries run through major cities and counties.
The Ministry of Communications has promised financial support for the construction.
In addition to direct government investment, Guangdong is also hoping to attract World Bank loans, Huang told China Daily yesterday.
The plan was jointly mapped out by the Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission, the Provincial Bureau of Communications and the Provincial Bureau of Finance earlier this year.
Huang said the advanced river transportation network will help link major cities along the Pearl River and its tributaries to neighbouring Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
A link between inland cities and major coastal ports in Guangdong will also help expand economic ties between Guangdong and Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Guizhou and Guangxi, which abound in natural resources and minerals, are located in the upper reaches of the Pearl River.
Coal, building materials and other resources in southwestern China could easily be transported to Guangdong, which has insufficient natural resources, supporting the province's future development.
The inner river transportation network will help reduce production and transportation costs for the province.
Guangdong's Yantian Port in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Guangzhou Port and Zhanjiang Port which have opened international ocean routes around the world are major international ports.
Huang said the provincial government also expects the advanced river transportation network to fortify Guangdong's status as a logistic and transportation hub in the southern Chinese region and as an international manufacturing base.