The normalized congestion of the Three Gorges ship lock has become a problem restricting the further development of Sichuan-Chongqing water transport. On May 25, 10 deputies of Chongqing delegation to the NPC submitted a proposal about the Recommendations on the Decision to Build a New Waterway for the Three Gorges, Alleviating the Problem of Yangtze River Shipping, during the 2020 Two Sessions.
The proposal was led by Zhang Xuan, director of the Chongqing People's Congress and jointly proposed by other nine deputies, including Du Liming, deputy director of Chongqing People's Congress, Zheng Xiangdong, deputy mayor of Chongqing Municipal People's Government, He Hengyang, prosecutor-general of Chongqing People's Procuratorate, and more.
According to the proposal, the Yangtze River shipping, as an essential support for the development, has played an important role in promoting the rapid economic and social development of Sichuan and Chongqing and surrounding areas. To take advantage of the unique location advantage of Chengdu-Chongqing region in connecting the southwest and northwest, and even connecting places in domestic and abroad, Chongqing and Sichuan are taking the construction of the Yangtze River upstream shipping center as a key strategy of comprehensively integrating into the Belt and Road as well as Chengdu-Chongqing international comprehensive transportation hub, therefore, promoting the high-quality development of water transportation.
However, since the Three Gorges ship lock achieved its design pass capacity 19 years in advance in 2011, it has been overloaded for nine consecutive years. In 2019, when the Three Gorges ship lock was not suspended for maintenance, the average waiting time of the ship reached 83.3 hours, nearly twice that of three years ago. Meanwhile, congestion had also caused a significant increase in the operating costs of ships, which has increased the operating costs of the water transportation industry by approximately RMB 2-30 billion.
The proposal believes that measures of railway and road diversion, which was proposed by the relevant railway departments, can only solve the channel problem, but cannot solve the problem of transportation cost. For example, according to preliminary estimates, the use of railway diversion or waterway-railway transmit will increase logistics costs by a total of about RMB 6.5 billion per year, compared with direct water transport. Even if there is a 50% fiscal subsidy, the railway freight rate is still significantly higher than that of water transport. In addition, the fiscal subsidy is RMB 3 billion per year, and there will be RMB 50 billion of the total endowment for 15 years, which is the same as the total cost of the Three Gorges New Channel and Gezhouba Ship Lock Expansion Project (the Expansion Project for short).
At present, the relevant departments in China have carried out several discussions on the Expansion Project. The National Development and Reform Commission has completed the examination and reported to the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The project construction is technically feasible and necessary, but it is also needed to be recognized by relevant departments and experts. In 2019, the Expansion Project was written into the 2019 Plan for National Economic and Social Development, as a major project to accelerate the preliminary work.
Since it will spend around eight years for the project construction, the proposal proposes that the Expansion Project should be approved and be started as soon as possible, to alleviate the problem of the Yangtze River shipping.
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