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Harbors to be upgraded

Harbors to be upgraded
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has planned to set up a Shipping Affairs Administration.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has planned to set up a Shipping Affairs Administration.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has planned to set up a Shipping Affairs Administration in 2011 to supervise the operations of four international harbor affairs firms to be transformed from the existing four major international harbour bureaus, thereby upgrading the competitiveness of Taiwan's major international harbors, a top MOTC official told on Friday.

Yeh Kuang-shih, vice minister of transportation and communications, made the remarks at the transportation committee meeting of the Legislative Yuan.

During the legislative session, lawmakers doubted the justification of the government decision to build direct shipping links across the Taiwan Strait, as Kaohsiung Harbour, the island's largest international harbor, has been squeezed out of the world's top-10 harbors in terms of cargo loading and unloading volumes.

Lawmaker Yang Jen-fu of the ruling Kuomintang said that the cargo handling volume of the Kaohsiung Port has declined after cross-strait direct shipping links took effect, indicating that relatively weak competitiveness of the port.

Another KMT lawmaker Lo Shu-lei also said that the Kaohsiung port used to take the No.3 place in the world, and still maintained the No. 6 spot in 2006, but the ranking dropped sharply to 12th in 2008, losing ground to ports in mainland China.

In response, Yeh of the MOTC said the decline in the world ranking of the Kaohsiung Harbour was due to several factors, including the economic downturn at home and abroad, and the exodus of Taiwan's manufacturing enterprises to mainland China.

Yeh continued that the government will take advantage of the cross-strait shipping links to reinforce ties with second-tier ports of mainland China by building new shipping routes across the Taiwan Strait, thereby boosting cargo transshipment volume of the Kaohsiung Harbour and other international ports of the island.

Taiwan has six international ports, namely Keelung, Suao, Taichung, Hualien, Anping and Kaohsiung. The cargo loading and unloading volume of the Kaohsiung port accounts for over 74 percent of total such volume registered by the six ports.

The Kaohsiung port has five container terminals, 23 container wharves, and 315.5 hectares of container yards, as well as a coastline of 7,036 meters.

Su Chien-jung, a division chief of the Kaohsiung Harbour Bureau said that a new container terminal will be inaugurated in 2013, when four new wharves will be operational. The project is expected to significantly boost the cargo handling volume of the Kaohsiung port and generate an additional annual production value of NT$39.47 billion.


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