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Controlled shipping at Three Gorges shiplocks

6 March 2013
A 20-day maintenance repair of the northern shiplocks at the Three Gorges Dam started at 8.00am on 2 March, triggering a raft of measures from the Three Gorges Administration of Navigational Affairs designed to minimise the impact. Among the measures announced, the southern shiplocks, which all vessels sailing upstream and downstream rely on during the 20-day period, will switch direction at 6.00pm every day. When the number of waiting vessels is deemed ‘too high’, the administration will activate the all-Yangtze emergency code, which restricts the issuance of shipping permits and can effectively prevent vessels from sailing in the Three Gorges area.

Tang Guanjun, director of the Yangtze River Administration under the MOT who is attending the National People’s Congress in Beijing, has called for urgent efforts to find an alternative route to facilitate shipping at the Three Gorges Dam. The shiplocks are capable of passing 150 vessels a day, he said, but demand is between 160 and 200 vessels, and waiting has become the norm.

More than 70 per cent of all vessels passing the shiplocks need to wait for 26 hours on average. Waiting vessels resulting from one-day’s suspension of operation at the shiplocks will take 10 or even 15 days to disperse, he said.

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