MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $150 million loan to improve the waterway transport system in Hunan province, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), by making the Xiang River more navigable for larger vessels, improving cargo terminals along the river, and providing landing berths for rural communities.
“Inland waterway transport is the cleanest, safest, and most energy-friendly mode of transport, and for certain cargoes it offers significant logistical and cost advantages,” said Xiaohong Yang, Lead Transport Specialist in ADB’s East Asia Department. “This project will help landlocked Hunan open up cargo links from less developed inland areas to coastal cities, directly benefiting both urban and rural residents.”
The Xiang River is one of the largest tributaries of the Yangtze River, but the limited depth of water in its middle and upper reaches has prevented safe year-round access by large vessels. The Hunan Xiangjiang Inland Waterway Transport Project will upgrade a 89 kilometer channel of the Xiangjiang River, enabling 1,000 deadweight ton capacity vessels to navigate along the 773-kilometer long river by 2018.
The project will also tap the Xiangjiang River’s hydropower potential to provide 363 gigawatt-hours of annual clean energy for the province.
Reduced transport costs between inland areas and the coast are expected to benefit around 14 million people in the cities of Hengyang and Yongzhou, as well as Guiyang county, which will gain from improved access to markets. By carrying traffic that would otherwise travel overland, the project will help to reduce road congestion, and also reduce annual CO2 emissions by at least 290,000 tons by 2018 as a result of clean energy generation.
The project will establish an integrated waterway management structure to provide a coordinated and integrated approach to developing inland waterway transport. It will also include a waterway transport promotion scheme, a vessel fleet modernization program, and capacity development support for oversight agencies to improve management of the sector.
This is ADB’s first inland waterway transport project in the PRC. The project supports PRC’s National Inland Waterways and Ports Plan, which is helping the country better utilize the advantages of its vast river system.