In­tro­duc­ing cargo barges

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Ayenyein­win@mm­ AYE NYEIN WIN

The In­land Wa­ter Trans­port is about to start the first con­tainer barges to ferry goods from ports to in­dus­trial zones to re­lieve con­ges­tion.

IN a step de­signed both to re­duce trans­porta­tion costs and re­lieve con­ges­tion on the roads, In­land Wa­ter Trans­port (IWT) is about to in­tro­duce the first con­tainer barge to ferry goods from ports to in­dus­trial zones, with three ves­sels to be in­tro­duced each year for the next five years.

State-owned IWT’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor U Zaw Win told The Myan­mar Times that the na­tion’s wa­ter­way fa­cil­i­ties will be up­graded to al­low the ves­sels to play a larger role in car­ry­ing trade.

IWT, which is part of the Min­istry of Trans­port and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, signed an agree­ment to build the con­tainer buses with SA Marine Com­pany at the end of 2014 by ar­range­ment with the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (JICA).

The first 60-me­tre long, 15m wide con­tainer ship was built in Yangon, at Sin­malite dock in Ky­ee­myindaing town­ship, with ex­ten­sive use of Ja­panese tech­nol­ogy. It cost K440 mil­lion to build and can carry up to 22, 12m (40-foot) con­tain­ers.

“The project was com­pleted ear­lier this year. We did a 20-day round trip test run from Yangon to Semikhon Jetty in Man­dalay Re­gion in March, and a 28-day test run in June from Yangon to Man­dalay,” said U Zaw Win.

“We al­ready have two more wa­ter barge con­tain­ers, and plan to build three more each year over a five-year busi­ness plan. We will also build a pas­sen­ger ship and oil tankers, ei­ther with a gov­ern­ment grant or an Overseas De­vel­op­ment As­sis­tance loan,” he said.

“We can’t yet use the con­tainer barges for long trips be­cause jetty fa­cil­i­ties are in­ad­e­quate. The main wa­ter­courses, the Aye­yarwady and Chind­win rivers, will need ex­ten­sive up­grad­ing and main­te­nance.

Mean­while, the ves­sels will be used to trans­port goods from Asia World or Bo­tah­taung port ter­mi­nal to Shwe Pyithar in­dus­trial zone.

“This will take a lot of trucks off the road as well as re­duc­ing trans­porta­tion costs,” U Zaw Win said.

Yangon Re­gion gov­ern­ment is also plan­ning to de­velop wa­ter trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture and lo­gis­tics.

“The next step is to im­prove the links from the jetty to rail and bus sta­tions to re­duce costs still fur­ther,” U Zaw Win said, adding that wa­ter trans­porta­tion will cost around one-fifth of the cost of road trans­porta­tion, once the up­graded fa­cil­i­ties are in place.

“At the mo­ment, IWT can­not of­fer a good ser­vice to pas­sen­gers ei­ther,” he said.

Most pas­sen­gers, faced with the prospect of rid­ing on un­com­fort­able goods ves­sels, pre­fer to go by road.

“First, we will change the sys­tem and run sep­a­rate ser­vices for pas­sen­gers and goods,” said U Zaw Win.

IWT op­er­ates 170 pow­ered ves­sels, in­clud­ing pas­sen­ger-cum-cargo boats, cargo ships, barges, wa­ter ten­ders, tugs, oil tankers and other boats, as well as 123 non-pow­ered cargo barges, seven oil barges and 30 sta­tion pon­toons.

Rice trader U Nay Lin Zin wel­comed the news. “Frankly speak­ing, the jet­ties have not re­ally been im­proved for the last 30 or 40 years,” he said.

Some jet­ties have no space to rest bags of rice, he said, not­ing that costs are also a ma­jor prob­lem. It costs K300 to ship a bag of rice from Myaung Mya in Aye­yarwady Re­gion to Yangon, but labour charges at Yangon port are K150 per bag and to take each bag of rice from the jetty into stor­age in Hlaing thar­yar town­ship costs another K250 to K300, he said.

“If the gov­ern­ment could pro­vide us with an in­ter­change sys­tem by con­nect­ing the jet­ties with a rail­way to all des­ti­na­tions it would be much more con­ve­nient.”

Photo: Zarni Phyo

Sacks of ce­ment are un­loaded from a ship.

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