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Wuhan plans Asia's biggest river port

Wuhan plans Asia's biggest river port

Shanghai: Authorities in Hubei have announced ambitious plans to build new docks, railways and roads around the provincial capital of Wuhan, a development they said would make the city the biggest river port in Asia by 2030, writes CargonewsAsia. The move is part of a plan to speed up the industrialisation of the Yangtze Economic Zone to benefit from effective river transportation.

"Hubei's Yangtze Economic Zone, with an area of more than 70,000 sq km, will become a convenient logistics hub of the Yangtze River and Central China, a modern base for a variety of industries and an ecologically friendly home for urban dwellers by 2020," said Zhang Chang'er, a member of the provincial standing committee of the Communist Party of China.

The proposed new Wuhan port comprises 22 districts, covering 173 km.

However, the proposal does not go far enough, according to one observer. "It should be extended as far as Huangshi, a downstream port district only 70 km from Wuhan, so we can have a greater Wuhan port that smoothly connects with railways and highways," said Wu Xinmu, an economics professor at Wuhan University.
Wu said another challenge is overlapping administrations.

"The new Wuhan port will integrate docks that used to be owned and managed by different enterprises or local administrations. Only through integration can we improve efficiency," Wu said.

The docks are being designed to take advantage of river transportation and also develop local industry with the facilitation of advanced logistics systems.

"We manufacture heavyweight power transformers, and the most important transportation means is by river or sea," said Hakan Karadogan, unit managing director of SEC AREVA in Wuhan.
"With the further construction of the Yangtze River transportation infrastructure, we will achieve faster and more reliable shipments of our products," Karadogan said.

SEC AREVA is a leading power transformer provider. The company opened a new factory in Wuhan in May. "We believe that the plan will be a positive influence for the local economy and for businesses here," Karadogan added.

There are three major docks at the new Wuhan port: an iron and steel dock built for Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corp (WISCO), one of the country's biggest steel makers; a grain dock for the National Rice Trade Center, which is located in Wuhan, and the container dock.

"Hubei has a good foundation of heavy and light industries, but it has lagged behind the development of the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl River Delta in recent years," said Gong Liutang, an economics professor at Peking University.

"Hubei should seize the opportunity for an industrial upgrade and strive to develop industrial connectivity," Gong said.

For example, Gong said, the abundance of rice and fish in the region can become the basis for famous brands in food processing.
"Planting, fishing, sideline production and food processing all have room for improvement, " Gong said.

Wu of Wuhan University said the government should also improve the investment environment and encourage private enterprises to catch up with development.

While striving to develop industrial clusters and extend industrial connectivity, the implementation of the green economy is also high on the agenda.

Yang Mingxing, an official with the Hubei Finance and Economics Office, said the plan would guide and support the green economy and industrial development.