Saigon River transport to freeze as tunnel construction begins

TN News

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All vessels will be prohibited on a section of the Saigon River for two days as the first section of a 1.5 kilometer-tunnel is built in Ho Chi Minh City this weekend.

Under the latest announcement by the Ho Chi Minh City Port Authority, ships and other vehicles won't be allowed on the river between Binh Khanh T intersection of the Soai Rap and Nha Be rivers and the My Canh Area on the Saigon River from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday.

The suspension, however, won't take effect on the whole section at the same time but will depend on the location of the convoy transporting the Thu Thiem Tunnel section, according to the announcement.

The port authorities planned to stop all the vehicles at the My Canh Area and Nha Rong port from 12 a.m. on Saturday to 12 p.m. on Sunday when the 27,000-ton section was put in place after moving for 22 kilometers from the adjacent province of Dong Nai.

This would cause certain difficulties to ships in moving into and out of seaports like Saigon, Tan Thuan and Vietnam International Container Terminals, Ho Kim Lan, general secretary of Vietnam Seaports Association, was quoted by local newswire Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online as saying.

However, as the Thu Thiem Tunnel was a significant project, each port should discuss and cooperate with the city's port authorities to adjust ships' movements to prevent losses, Lan said.

Vuong Hoang Thanh, vice director of the East West Highway and Water Environment Project, which includes construction of the tunnel, said the second section was slated to be put in place next month, according to the news source.

All four sections of the tunnel, which is expected to be Southeast Asia's longest, would be in place by the end of August, the official added.

Linking HCMC's District 1 and 2, the tunnel is slated to open to traffic next year.

It was first expected to be completed at the end of 2008, but later delayed when authorities found cracks in the sections that were still under construction at a site in Dong Nai province in June the same year. The repairs weren't finished until this January.

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