The Chinese government is urged to control the intensive construction of bridges over the Yangtze River to protect the "golden waterway" connecting inland areas with the sea.
The Yangtze is the longest river in China, and 795 million tons of cargoes were shipped through the trunk of the river in 2005. But the construction of "too many" bridges may prevent large oceangoing ships from sailing directly to inland cities along the river, which is expected to see growing shipping business when the costs of land transport rise due to tight supply of energy, said political advisor Jin Yihua.
The Yangtze is a major shipping artery connecting eastern, central and western China and its value mainly exists in shipping as far as transportation is concerned, said Jin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is in its annual session in Beijing.
Jin, also director of the Yangtze River Shipping Administration, slashed the craze for building "Yangtze bridges," citing one of his surveys that since the first bridge across the Yangtze was open to road traffic, 39 bridges have been erected and the number is expected to reach 124 by the year 2020.
"This means one bridge in less than 30 km across the nearly 3,000-km-long trunk of the river by that time," said Jin, who is here attending the session.
Moreover, some of the existing bridges have problems in spans and height, and affects the operation of large ships.
According to him, the cities along the Yangtze River usually employ ships of above 5,000 deadweight tons for direct shipping to Japan, above 7,000 deadweight tons to southeast Asian countries and above 10,000 deadweight tons to Europe and America.
Although more than 10,000 international ships entered the Yangtze waterway in 2001, 99 percent of them only came to ports below the Nanjing section on the lower reaches, said Jin.
The advisor suggested that local authorities build more tunnels under the river than bridges over it when they make plans to increase road traffic.
The government should control the distance between bridges to more than 80 km over the Yangtze trunk on the middle and upper reaches starting from Wuhan in central China and that to more than 100 km downstream, he suggested.
The existing bridges that affect shipping should be transformed, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)