CARGO handled by China's main sea and river ports is expected to hit 790 million tonnes this year, up 7.8 per cent over last year's figure, said the Communications Ministry. But, according to the China Daily, the figure will be achieved through major efforts by port authorities and workers because the ports faced a sea of troubles during the year which threatened normal operations. There were unusually low water levels on the Yangtze and Heilongjiang rivers, typhoons in summer and autumn, and heavy fog and snow in winter. The burden put on ports was also uneven around the country and at different times of the year, the ministry's shipping experts said. The pace of economic growth caused a log jam of freight in the first six months, which began to ease only in August. While docks and berths in the flourishing areas of South China were frequently jammed, there was only slight growth in trade in northern ports. The experts said changes in the types of freight the ports had to handle also made life harder. Traditional goods which are easy to handle, such as chemical fertiliser, grain and coal, declined but steel and iron ore, machinery and equipment increased. However, the year's cargo handling quota was completed 21 days early.