Deputy: Scrap dam toll road charges

Updated: 2015-03-17 08:02


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Shipping companies pay to avoid waiting for several days in queue for locks

Deputy: Scrap dam toll road charges

A large number of ships wait to pass through the locks at the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province on Friday. [Photo/China Daily]

Toll road charges at the Three Gorges Dam should be scrapped, according to a legislator.

Ships face long delays crossing from one side of the dam to the other using locks. There is no charge for using the locks, but the holdups can last several days.

To save time, some freight operators unload their ships at one side and use trucks to take the cargo across on the toll road. The freight is then loaded onto ships at the other side and taken on to its destination.

"It costs 500 yuan ($83) to take one truckload a few miles to the other side of the dam on the toll road," said Wang Hongju, a member of the National People's Congress and also a senior official of the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee under the NPC.

"The locks were intended to allow freighters to travel between coastal and interior areas more freely. The extra costs should be paid by the companies that built the dam, not the logistics companies."

In addition to producing electricity, a major reason for building the dam was to allow larger ships to travel along the Yangtze River from the coast, stimulating economic development in inland areas.

The volume of shipping passing through the locks was originally expected to reach the full capacity of 100 million metric tons per year in 2030. However, this limit was reached in 2011, resulting in the long waiting times.

Tang Lin, an NPC deputy and the president of the Chongqing Free Trade Port Administrative Corporation, said ships traveling from Shanghai to Chongqing have to wait for between three and six days to pass through the locks. Those going the other way face waits of between two and four days.

Wang, a former mayor of Chongqing, added: "Before the dam, ships could travel on the river without holdups. Because of the dam and the locks, some ship owners have to pay for the toll road. This should be paid by the dam construction companies.

"Chongqing, as the municipality and economic center at the upper reaches of the Yangtze, relies heavily on the river for its development. There is also a risk of corruption."

Premier Li Keqiang visited Chongqing in April 2014 and urged the city to take advantage of the river to further develop the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

Previous reports said Chongqing supported a plan to build a second set of locks to increase shipping capacity. However, Hubei province, which owns the dam, suggested building more roads to take cargo across the site.

Hubei is working on ways to enable larger ships to pass along the river.

Zhu Ning, National People's Congress deputy and president of the China Changjiang National Shipping Group, said: "Wuhan has banned 10,000-ton freighters on the river because of concerns over water levels and the risk of damage to the Yangtze River Bridge.

"The authorities are working toward solve the problem. For instance, the river will be deepened to six meters from Anqing to Wuhan to allow larger ship to go through."