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Call for new facility to solve Three Gorges bottleneck

18 January 2012
A panel of experts organised by the Yangtze River Administration under the Ministry of Transport has conceded after a recent visit that a new facility is needed to solve the increasingly severe shipping bottleneck problem at the Three Gorges shiplocks.

The experts acknowledged that the impact of technical solutions such as vessel standardisation and better management will be limited in terms of further improving the utilisation of the shiplocks because demand for shipping is growing so fast as a result of the rapid economic development in the interior. Some of them predict that, between 2013 and 2015, congestion at the shiplocks will be so severe that it will hinder economic growth in the interior.

Traffic volumes passing the shiplocks exceeded 100m tons for the first time in 2011, nearly 20 years ahead of the projected realisation of full capacity. Out of this total, 55.1 per cent of cargo was being transported upstream, and 44.9 per cent downstream.

On average, passing vessels need to wait for 17 hours in anchorage, according to official figures, and the five locks take an average of eight hours to pass, said an experienced ship captain.

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