11 June 18 - A proposal to construct a multi-purpose port in Kawhmu township, southwestern Yangon, was submitted to the Yangon Regional Parliament by U Zaw Aye Maung, Rakhine ethnic minister last week.
"Yangon is the gateway to trade and handles up to 95 percent of the country's imports and exports. The current port capacity in Yangon and Thilawa is still limited relative to the volume of goods handled. While they are now handling a substantial amount of internationally traded goods, these ports will become constrained as trade continues to grow," said U Zaw Aye Maung.
Currently, the Yangon ports are capable of handling 26 ships while Thilawa is able to berth 20 ships. The ports handle goods traded between Myanmar and Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand.
A total of 20 shipping lines call at the Yangon and Thilawa ports, according to U Zaw Aye Maung. The ports are able to handle vessels as large as 20,000 deadweight tonnes.
Importantly, a new port would bring down the cost of importing petrol and diesel, for which demand in Myanmar is fast rising. By building a new port, berth space for tankers would be made available, which, in turn, will enable the public to buy petrol and diesel without having to add on service costs and transportation charges, thereby reduce prices for consumers.
Because of berthing constraints at its existing ports, Myanmar consumers have had to pay more than the international market price for petrol and diesel because of the higher logistics costs involved in bringing the fuel from ship to petrol station.
Storage is also a problem. Myanmar currently imports an average of 700 million gallons of refined oil. However, the country only has sufficient storage space for around 5 million gallons, according to official data.
As such, the new port will provide space to store petrol and diesel as well as other commodities such as rice and beans, which will also help to reduce costs.
"Stable petrol prices are very important as the country is dependent on petrol for transport," said U Zaw Aye Maung.
Will construction of a new port actually take place though? According to U Zaw Aye Maung, the regional government has already earmarked a 1, 053-acre plot of land between Kawhmu township and Kunchan Gone township on which to build the port.
Construction is expected to take place in phases, the first involving development of 500 acres along a 2.2 kilometer stretch next to the river bank.
''The government has already conducted the necessary feasibility studies. It has consulted with experienced international companies such as Royal Haskoning and Surbana Jurong. Now, we have submitted the proposal to parliament," he said.
''The new port can accept large amount of goods and will be easily extended to accommodate more goods in the future. Importantly, the water depths will be 9 meters, which will enable it to handle bigger ships compared to the existing ports.
An additional port will also give the industrial zones another option for trade and hopefully reduce the traffic congestion caused by trucks transporting containers across town," said U Zaw Aye Maung.
Source: Myanmar Times