Economists are troubled about the Ho Chi Minh City Port Authority's recent plan to relocate the Saigon Commercial Port away from the city.
They worry not only about wasting the existing port facilities but also about the future of tens of thousands of employees working at the port.
However, the greatest concern is whether using $US 400 to 500 million of state loans to construct a new commercial port is even a good idea. The prices of products imported via the new port would definitely surge because transport costs will rise.
Who will benefit from the port relocation? Why does the city authority want to move the Saigon Commercial Port? To keep it away from the city's busy center? But commercial ports in other big cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok are also situated in the heart of the city. Is it to increase transport volumes? The Saigon Commercial Port has not yet been fully exploited.
It is impossible to further expand the port. However, big city trading ports in other countries operate both day and night, while Saigon Port only operates in the daytime because at night, the dark prevents city pilots from guiding ships across the tortuous sections of the Saigon River.
Based on suggestions of experienced pilots, economists said if the city builds two lines of light across the Saigon River from a "zero buoy" to the port with just a small amount of capital, pilots would be able to work at night and the number of ships docking at Saigon Commercial Port would at least double.
Vietnam has been criticized for using aid and loan capital inefficiently. No one knows whether the city authority has made the best choice for a new location of its commercial port.
It is crucial that Ho Chi Minh City correctly determine the purpose of a new trading port while taking into account other projects which also require investment. The city should not follow the recommendations of certain companies and forget about the responsible and efficient use of the state's capital.