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Communications Minister Vows to Improve Transport Ability

Communications Minister Vows to Improve Transport Ability 
Minister of Communications Zhang Chunxian said Sunday that the ministry will improve transportation in 2005 to meet the increasing demands of China's booming economy.

Zhang made the announcement at the country's yearly national meeting for transportation.

According to the ministry, passenger and freight transportation on highways and waterways are expected to reach 17.3 billion people and 14.9 billion tons in 2005, up 5.0 and 6.4 percent, respectively, over 2004.

The freight and container throughput for ports will grow 500 million tons and 13 million TEU (20-foot equivalent unit), respectively, to 4.6 billion tons and 75 million TEU.

The ministry will make efforts to guarantee transportation for coal, especially coal for power generation, Zhang said, adding that priority will also be given to transportation for agricultural products, life necessities and important materials for the national economy such as oil, minerals and food supplies.

Zhang urged all concerned departments to improve transportation in the Three Gorges area to make it easy for passengers and vessels to pass through the dams.

Meanwhile, Zhang said the ministry will strengthen regulations on overloading next year, aiming to limit overloaded vehicles to under 6 percent.

The Ministry of Communications, along with eight other ministries, began to deal with overloaded vehicles on June 20 when 80 percent of all vehicles were overloaded. Now there are 10 percent overloaded vehicles found on highways.

Zhang also said that China will invest 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) from 2006 to 2010 to build more rural highways.

Zhang said all administrative villages in China will be connected by highways at the end of 2010.

According to the transportation department, 123 towns and 11,200 villages built highways in 2004. About 250,000 kilometers of highways have been upgraded to expressways and 130,000 kilometers of bituminous and cement roads are newly built.

With 8,500 buses running, farmers from 286 towns and 28,424 villages can easily go out.

The ministry is working on building a bus network in rural areas, Zhang said.

However, roads in many rural areas are still very bad, and building highways for all China's villages is difficult, as it requires money, technology and support from local governments.

Zhang said the ministry will try its best to build highways on top of existing roads and not over farmland.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2004)

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