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Seoul to have sea link by 2012

Seoul to have sea link by 2012

Seoul: The Gyeongin (Seoul-Incheon) Canal project to link the Han River and the Yellow Sea will be resumed in March five years after the plan was canceled due to questions over economic viability and environmental destruction.

The canal is slated for completion in December 2011.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry said yesterday that it will expand the construction of the Gulpo Stream Waterway for flood prevention as part of government works to help weather economic difficulty and resume the canal project from March.

The project is expected to create 25,000 jobs, and to get it started fast, the ministry will turn it into a public development project with the Korea Water Resources Corporation in charge instead of attracting private investment.

The ministry said excavation work for 3.8 of the 18-kilometer waterway needing to be dug up near the Han River will begin in March. To secure the average depth of 6.3 meters to allow passage of vessels, the ministry will dig an average of 1.6 meters deeper along the 14.2-kilometer already dug up for the Gulpo waterway.

When construction is complete, vessels with a capacity of more than 4,000 tons can use the canal to transport cargo back and forth between the Yellow Sea and the Han River. Passenger ships running between Seoul's Yongsan district and China will begin service in connection with the Han River Renaissance Project of the Seoul city government.

Given the difficulty in securing private investment due to the financial crisis, the project will be financed by the water corporation or an external source.

The canal's combined budget is an estimated 2.25 trillion won ($1.7 billion).

Gyeongin was designated a private construction project in 1995, but was reduced to the status of a waterway in 2003 by a national policy coordination body. A recent analysis on the project's economic viability by the Korea Development Institute, however, changed the government's decision once again.

The think tank said the benefit cost ratio of the project is 1.07, meaning it is economically viable.  [6/1/09]


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