[photopress:lesser_gorges_yangtze_river.jpg,full,alignright]China’s Ministry of Communications will spend heavily to improve navigation channels and coal, ore and container berths along the country’s longest waterway, the Yangtze River.
Li Jiansheng, an inspector with the ministry’s Water Transportation Department at a meeting held in west China’s Chongqing Municipality said, ‘The government will invest RMB15 billion ($2 billion) over the next five years.’
The meeting brought together water transportation officials from seven provinces and two municipalities along the Yangtze River.
Li Jiansheng said 80 percent of the river valley’s iron ore, 72 percent of its crude oil and 83 percent of its coal for power generation is transported by vessel along the Yangtze. With the water level in the Three Gorges Hydropower Project raised, seagoing vessels will be able to navigate the 2,838 kilometer-long main channel of the river all the way from Shanghai to Chongqing.
The ministry called on local governments to build ports and facilities for containers, oil and liquefied gas, mineral ore, coal and roll-on-roll-off car vessels.
Li Jiansheng said that the big cities along the river — Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan and Chongqing — will play a key role in coordinating construction, which will boost economic development in coastal and inland regions.
The ministry last year invited foreign and private shipping companies to build ports and logistics facilities along the Yangtze, especially direct river-to-ocean transportation facilities.
By 2010, freight transport via the Yangtze River artery is projected to hit 1.3 billion tons per year. The Yangtze river valley feeds 400 million people, or one-third of the country’s total, and produces one-third of China’s total grain output and one-third of China’s GDP.