New transport infrastructure to boost Xiamen
WONG JOON SAN
Xiamen International Container Terminals (XICT) - the only deep-water port in the Xiamen Special Economic Zone - expects to handle fourth-generation container vessels within four years.
XICT, which is owned 49 per cent by Hutchison Delta Ports, a subsidiary of Hutchison Ports, and 51 per cent by Xiamen Haicang Port, handles ships with draught up to 13.3 metres.
'With completion of the Haicang bridge in October, the distance between Xiamen Island and Haicang will be greatly shortened,' a terminal spokesman said.
The Xiamen-Yingtan railway, with a key station at Haicang, would connect with the Haicang railway scheduled for completion this year, he said.
In addition, construction of a 50-kilometre highway and an associated highway network was expected to provide rapid access to the Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou freeway and the inland area of Fujian province.
With the establishment of this transport network, more than 70 per cent of Xiamen Island's container throughput is expected to shift to Haicang port, to benefit from savings in haulage, bridge tolls and time.
Sea-Land Service also is at Xiamen port, managing Pacific Port's berths at Xiamen in which New World Infrastructure has a 37.15 per cent stake.
Sources said Hutchison Delta Ports and Sea-Land were unhappy with Xiamen port authorities over alleged manipulation of conditions at the port, making it difficult for foreign investors to expand business.
The port authorities own two berths and have partial interests in berths managed by Hutchison and Sea-Land.
The sources said an example of the alleged unfair practices was the establishment of a centre housing departments such as customs and health adjacent to the two berths owned by the port authorities.
This encouraged shippers to use those berths rather than travel to the centre from the Hutchison and Sea-Land terminals to clear formalities.
Another area of dissatisfaction involved tariffs, the source said. While the terminals officially were allowed to set their own tariffs, the Xiamen port authorities set charges low, forcing the foreign-owned berths to bring their tariffs down or risk losing business.
The sources said Hutchison and Sea-Land hoped to be able to provide more competitive services when the proposed infrastructure was in place.
Direct shipping between the mainland and Taiwan has been hailed as a success, despite only 270,000 teu (20 ft equivalent units) being transported last year.
A Hong Kong Shippers' Council delegation late last month made a five-day study visit to Xiamen and Fuzhou ports - the mainland ports designated for direct links with Taiwan.
The direct-shipping trials across the Taiwan Strait involved 10 vessels from 10 companies which made 1,487 voyages between Fuzhou and Xiamen and Kaohsiung.