Nansha port underused as ships stay away
Annette Chiu and Russell Barling
Guangzhou's new container port in Nansha is operating at only about 25 per cent of capacity, industry sources say.
Since opening on September 28 last year, the port's first four berths have handled 130,000 20-foot equivalent units (teu) - or 10,800 teu per berth per month. Each berth is designed to handle more than 41,000 teu a month.
A south China port executive yesterday said containers were barged from Shenzhen ports upriver to Nansha for its official opening, making it appear busier than it really was. That practice continued for at least Nansha's first month of operations, so vessels calling there would have something to pick up.
Xiong Wenhui, an economic development director at the Nansha Port Development Centre, referred questions to other port officials who could not be reached for comment.
Nansha is served by two mainland shipping lines. State-owned China Shipping Container Lines calls at the port three times a week, while Cosco Container Lines (Coscon) operates two unscheduled services to Nansha every month.
A spokesman for Coscon said the company would eventually transfer its services at Huangpu, Guangzhou's original port, to Nansha. 'With Nansha, we don't need to barge cargo from Huangpu to Hong Kong or Shenzhen. It saves trucking costs of US$100 per teu.'
International carriers have adopted a wait-and-see policy before committing to Nansha. A European industry executive said that with shipping lines having established a strong network servicing facilities in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, they were reluctant to expand to Nansha. 'There has to be enough demand to justify the move,' he said.
Another shipping line manager said: 'We have no plans to call at Nansha at the moment. We need some time to see the economic viability.'
Guangzhou's designation of Nansha as its new deep-water port raised regional competition concerns in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
Guangzhou's massive investment in Nansha, at the mouth of the Pearl River, is also controversial due to constant silting at the port.
Its 13-metre-deep first phase can accommodate only 50,000-tonne - or 3,600-teu - vessels. Most lines use vessels more than twice that size for transoceanic trade routes to Europe and the US.