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Studies recommend expansion of Hong Kong’s port facilities

Preparations should begin to expand Hong Kong’s ports infrastructure to handle an expected increase in container traffic over the next 15 years, according to two new studies.

A strategic development plan for Hong Kong port up to 2030 and a feasibility study for the territory’s southwest Tsing Yi ‘Container Terminal 10’ area were unveiled at a joint meeting of Hong Kong’s Port Development Council and Maritime Industry Council on 1 December.

The port 2030 study projected that “total container throughput will grow at an average annual rate of 1.5%” over the next 15 years and “is estimated to reach 31.5 million 20-foot equivalent units”, Hong Kong’s government said.

The study proposed a series of measures including upgrading the Stonecutters Island public cargo working area “to a modern container handling facility for ocean-going or river trade vessels to improve its efficiency”.

In addition, the study suggested that the River Trade Terminal, which opened in 1998 as the “first purpose-built container terminal for handling river trade cargoes in Hong Kong”, become a terminal for both ocean-going and river trade vessels, “and to make better use of land and other facilities around the terminals to accommodate future transhipment growth”.

However, the study into the potential development of the Container Terminal 10 area found that while work was “technically feasible, the project is not financially or economically viable”, the government said.

The government said industry representatives “generally agreed” with the studies’ findings and proposals and called for work to begin “as soon as possible to provide more port back-up land and berthing facilities to relieve congestion at the Kwai Tsing container terminals”.

According to the Hong Kong Port Development Council, the territory’s container terminals are all in the Kwai Chung-Tsing Yi basin. There are nine terminals operated by five different operators that occupy 279 hectares of land, providing 24 berths and 7,694 metres of deep water frontage.

A report published in 2013 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (53-page / 2.68 MB PDF) said  Hong Kong was the third largest container port in the world in 2011 and tenth in terms of tonnage.

The OECD said the growth of the port of Hong Kong over 1972-2012 had been “phenomenal”, increasing almost 18 times its original size over the period “compared to a growth factor of 10 in Singapore”.

However, the OECD said  Hong Kong’s “growth rates have levelled off in the last decade as the result of growth rates in other ports in the region including Guangzhou, with “an average growth rate of 18% per year over 2002-2012”. Growth rates in Shenzhen (16%) and Shanghai (18%) in mainland China over the same period had “outpaced” the 4% rate seen in Hong Kong, the OECD said.

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